Visiting Robben Island
I didn’t quite know what to expect.
I wasn’t sure what I would feel, what I would see, or what I would learn.
Earlier this year, I was visiting Cape Town, South Africa and had the opportunity to visit Robben Island. Robben Island has been a prison for over 400 years.
“One of the most difficult things is not to change society but to change yourself.” -Nelson Mandela
Today it is most famous as the place where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years of his 27 years in prison. As a student of great leaders and an admirer of Nelson Mandela’s leadership, I knew that this visit was a must.
A Moving Experience
After a brief ferry ride, we boarded a bus to tour Robben Island.
One of the stops was at the limestone quarry where prisoners toiled in the hot sun. The work damaged Nelson Mandela’s lungs and also his eyes. His tear ducts were damaged, preventing him from ever crying again.
Visible in the background is a cave. This cave was used as a bathroom and the guards almost never approached it. Our tour guide explained that the cave became a great place of learning and exchanging information. Some say it held the most important political meetings of the time.
We later drove to the prison where we met our prison tour guide, Ntando Mbatha. Ntando was a prisoner for seven years at Robben Island. His story was moving. Hearing him explain the conditions of the prison first hand will be forever etched in my mind.
I followed him to the cell of Nelson Mandela. It was small, roughly 7×9. A thin mat lay in the corner. It was stark. There was an unmistakable feeling I cannot quite explain throughout the entire cellblock.
That day, I learned more about the many heroes who fought against apartheid. Some beaten. Some killed.
Seeing this all in person increased my admiration for Nelson Mandela.
“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” –Nelson Mandela
Qualities of an Extraordinary Leader
Nelson Mandela demonstrated remarkable leadership qualities:
What are the best ways to motivate a team? Are there best practices that managers can use to lead?
For your chance to receive a free copy of David Long’s new book, Built to Lead: 7 Management R.E.W.A.R.D.S Principles for Becoming a Top 10% Manager, do any of the following:
- Answer the question and leave a comment below.
- Tweet, Share or Like the post.
- If you are on the email list, you will also be automatically entered.
I’m always asking people these questions, trying to improve my understanding of team motivation. Entrepreneur, speaker, and CEO of MyEmployees, David Long, is an expert on motivation and rewards. His company specializes in helping managers link rewards and recognition to the desired goals of the company. The firm he founded has been working at this for twenty five years. His new book, Built to Lead: 7 Management R.E.W.A.R.D.S Principles for Becoming a Top 10% Manager, is David’s view of what it takes to become a Top 10% manager.
I asked David: what are three ways to best motivate a team? His answer:
1: Show your employees you value their opinions.
Anytime we seek to improve something in a particular department or process within our company, we always tell the employees what we want to happen. Then we ask them, “In an ideal world, what changes can we make to improve the process and make your job easier?” Why do we ask them instead of just telling them what to do? It’s quite simple really. We want buy-in to the needed changes being made, and we insure that by involving them and their input.
Note: Your front-line employees should always be involved in the process when developing the system in which they are expected to produce and perform. If they help create the system, it greatly increases the likelihood of them adopting any changes that may be created as a result. Without that happening, there will definitely be unnecessary resistance.
“No man will make a great leader who wants to get all the credit for doing it.” -Andrew Carnegie
Recognize Excellent Work
2: Recognize excellence at every opportunity.
Someone once said, “What gets recognized gets repeated.” You want more innovation within your company, then recognize it. You want more employees to take ownership of their responsibilities and care about the success of the company as if it were their own, then recognize it! You want to improve any quantifiable metric of success within your company, such as sales, increased profits, higher dollar per client, then recognize it.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
On March 13, 2013, 115 cardinals cast votes inside the Vatican to elect the next pope of the Roman Catholic Church. At 19:06 local time, white smoke could be seen drifting upwards following the election. The new pope, who would take the name Pope Francis, emerged from the conclave as the new leader of a global organization facing a number of serious issues.
Stepping onto the world stage, this new pope would inspire everyone with his humility and his concern for the poor. And, in so doing, he demonstrated a new model for leadership.
“Leadership is the ability to articulate a vision and get others to carry it out.” -Jeffrey Krames
Jeffrey Krames has written a new book about the pontiff, Lead with Humility: 12 Leadership Lessons from Pope Francis. He offers a practical guide for how any leader can take the same principles to become an authentic and humble leader. I asked Jeff a few questions about his research.
What is it about Pope Francis that has made him so incredibly popular?
He is absolutely the real thing. I call him “The Authentic Leader.” How rare is that today? No political leaders seem to do anything for the betterment of anyone but themselves, and only after polling the issue. That is the opposite of Pope Francis, who is the most compassionate pope I have experienced in my lifetime. It is why I have dubbed him the “anti-Hitler.”
“If we can develop a truly humble attitude, we can change the world.” -Pope Francis
Advocate for the Least of These
What attracted and inspired you, as a Jewish author, to research and write a book about the new Catholic pope?
The answer above answers this question in part. Growing up in a “Holocaust household” is a very difficult thing to do. There are ghosts of all the people who have perished (and now my kids must grow up as third generation survivor). So I see Francis as the first person in my lifetime amazing enough to earn the moniker of the anti-Hitler. He is the 21st century’s answer to the 20th century’s most malevolent mass-murderer. Hitler hated and attempted to eradicate what he felt was society’s worst. Francis works every day to lift up the people who have the least—the ones who have been relegated to “society’s dustbin.”
12 Leadership Lessons from Pope Francis
- Lead with Humility.
- Smell Like Your Flock.
- Who Am I to Judge?
- Don’t Change-Reinvent.
- Make Inclusivity a Top Priority
- Avoid Insularity.
- Choose Pragmatism over Ideology.
- The Optics of Decision-Making.
- Run Your Organization Like a Field Hospital.
- Live on the Frontier.
- Overcoming vs. Sidestepping Adversity.
- Pay Attention to Non-Customers.
Pope Francis continues to gain popularity and press every month. How will Pope Francis influence leaders in other organizations?