True leadership is about pooling the best on offer

2017-08-28 10:10
Nelson Mandela Bay. (Supplied)

Nelson Mandela Bay. (Supplied)

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You cannot make omelettes without breaking eggs. Entering in political coalitions and arrangements is the recognition that there will not be a bed of roses.

Equal power sharing in some cases is difficult to forge; it requires back pedalling as you move forward. When a person is driving a bicycle, he is moving forward but often times he is back peddling. The back peddling does not affect the forward motion. 

The working relationship between deputy mayor Mongameli Bobani of the UDM and executive mayor Athol Trollip of the DA collapsed to the point of no return long ago. After various interventional meetings by both parties still the relationship was distressed.

Logically the UDM could have simply replaced Bobani with another leader. Remember, the UDM is the minority party in the coalition. The replacement was initially requested by the DA. In acting on the request the UDM would have been seen as surrendering to the demands of the DA. And what is wrong with that?

Surrender doesn’t mean that you are weak. Instead, in surrendering, you may often find yourself in a better position to negotiate more power. And the other partner may feel the need to give in on other areas as well now that you have led the way.

The forward motion of a bicycle is not affected or hindered when a cyclist backpedals. The cyclist is back peddling as a form of a short term tactic in order to get a good grip on the pedals and to launch even more power to the bicycle.

The EFF has raised the point of lack of humility. From the very start these coalitions and arrangements among the opposition were not going to be a bed of roses. Bring the DA and EFF together and it equals a cruel marriage.

But the expectation was that far-sightedness will prevail over squabbles; that notwithstanding all the short-term fighting the focus will be on the grand goal, the cherry, the bigger prize: taking national power. It was expected that the daily heartaches, aches and pains will be dealt with along the rocky road.

True leadership is about pooling the best on offer, whether they be rivals, people you do not like, or people outside of your comfort zone, as long as it is possible to work with them to advance a common cause. Bringing people with different perspectives together and developing commonalities to get long is a sign of strength.

Abraham Lincoln was one of the greatest presidents in American history. He helped end slavery and stopped America from breaking apart in the Civil War (1861-1865).

He achieved this by bringing together all enemies into his cabinet. Cabinet meetings were hostile and characterised by heated arguments. In the end America was preserved from breaking apart.  

The same can be said about the working relationship between Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk. It was not a good marriage, but was born out of necessity. They were rivals; heated enemies. We know how they verbally abused each other even in public. It took strength and character for them to march along united by a grand mission of giving birth to a new country united and prospering in its diversity. 

- Chris Kanyane is an MBA graduate with a focus in marketing and strategy. He is director at and has managing high level research at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) that fed into the National Development Plan (NDP).

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Read more on:    nelson mandela bay  |  udm  |  opposition  |  local government  |  da
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