Consultation and Leadership – Leaders like Nelson Mandela knew instinctively when NOT to consult …!
For those who have been glued to television screens to follow the various commemorations of the life of the former South African President, a frequent refrain will have been the leadership he displayed when negotiating the end of the apartheid regime.
The story is told that at critical moments in the lengthy dialogue, Mandela deliberately avoided consulting his colleagues in the ANC. There are suggestions that both FW de Klerk and Mandela at times had to negotiate bilaterally, without recourse to their wider constituencies … or stakeholders. Indeed it is a finely balanced judgement as to when to go back to one’s wider group, and when to move forward without their endorsement. Experts in conflict resolution recognise the need to balance legitimacy of a negotiating position with the opportunities to achieve genuine and deliverable compromise.