As people around the world honor the life of Nelson Mandela, his legacy of leadership for peace and justice offers much for the corporate world.
Mandela reminds us all of our True work- to preserve and uphold human dignity. For if we cannot preserve human dignity through our businesses, our commerce and economic system, then those systems and organizations don’t serve humanity and have no True value.
Despite the tough economic times, many top executives earn obscene bonuses while paying bottom tier employees barely enough to eat or pay rent. The workplace and business marketplace is no less a battle ground for peace, justice and human dignity that the streets of Soweto.
Mandela reminds us what Servant Leadership is: “Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people.” (Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa, April 25, 1998) His example of Servant Leadership fits corporations as well- to make sacrifices for the human dignity of their workforce.
Most current management theories uphold the idea that if treated fairly and decently, people will do their best, bring their best, and contribute meaningfully to their jobs. When leaders break the trust of their employees and the public, they violate these fundamental management principles.
Mandela’s life reminds us that we have a bigger game to play.
May we all carry the torch of human dignity that Mandela carried through his darkest days in prison.
The world is a better place for Mandela’s living example of true Servant Leadership, and True work.
Dr. Linda J. Ferguson has written about business ethics and corporate social responsibility in her two books, “Path for Greatness: Work as Spiritual Service” and “Staying Grounded in Shifting Sand: Awakening Soul Consciousness in the New Millennium“