Nelson Mandela: Consummate Communicator

Nelson Mandela: Consummate Communicator

“Let there be peace for all. Let there be justice for all. The sun shall never set on such a glorious human achievement.” – Nelson Mandela

We join the rest of the world to celebrate the incredible impact and legendary life of Nelson Mandela. While much can be said about his character, his integrity, his leadership and his vision, the world is also losing a tremendous communicator. A trailblazer, peacemaker, leader and role model, we thank Nelson Mandela for the infinite lessons– among them, how to be a better communicator.

6 Communications Lessons We Can Learn from Nelson Mandela:

  1. Be Authentic. Genuine, sincere, Nelson Mandela could really make people care. He was the same man behind the podium as he was one-on-one, embodying authenticity. Don’t make the mistake of being generic, and don’t let your polish gloss over your passion. Be yourself.
  2. Be Influential. Every opportunity to speak to someone is an opportunity to influence. While in prison, Nelson Mandela insisted on respect from the prison guards and other prisoners. From there, he was able to influence them to his perspective. Recognize the opportunity to be influential.
  3. Maintain Humble Confidence. Even in the later part of Nelson Mandela’s life, after he had already proved his stripes as an international leader, he never let it get to his head. Exemplified in this clip from his interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2000, Nelson Mandela kept his focus on his team and his collaborators. Be confident – and stay humble.
  4. Smile: Likability Earns Support. Close your eyes and picture Nelson Mandela. Is he smiling? Of course he is. Humanitarian efforts aside, his likability contributed to his success. He had energy in his voice and face, and a smile on his face – even when discussing the heavy memories of brutality. As described in New York Times, “He shook every hand as if he was discovering a new friend and maintained a twinkle in his eye that said: this is fun.” Be likable – it will contribute to your success.
  5. Don’t Forget to Say Thank You. One of the best things you can do as a leader is to say thank you. It communicates gratitude, encouragement and positive reinforcement. During his first public speech after over 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela was greeted to thunderous applause. Though his remarks were short, he started by saying thank you, and he closed by saying thank you. Remember your listeners – and never forget to thank them.
  6. Change is a Process: Keep Focusing on Continuous Improvement. Nelson Mandela worked tirelessly to create change. Ending apartheid was a long battle, as was leading South Africa. Nelson Mandela even retired from retirement to champion new causes, foundations, funds, and scholarships. Change is a process. There is always something for each of us to work on – personally and professionally. Never stop making improvements.

May he rest in peace, and may his legacy live on.


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