Searching for Mandela: The Saint as a Sinner Who Keeps on Trying

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


I first visited South Africa in 2000, when I was working with the United Nations International Leadership Academy. After that, I traveled to South Africa on many other occasions. For 6 years, I sat on the board of The Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation. During that time, I had the opportunity to meet Archbishop Tutu and a number of people who were involved the anti-apartheidAnti-apartheid movement and the TruthTruth and Reconciliation Commission. In 2009, I was invited to be a visiting professor at the University of Fort Hare’sFort Hare Centre for Leadership Ethics in Africa. Fort HareFort Hare is the oldest black University in South Africa. It is Nelson Mandela’sMandela, N. alma mater and home to the African National Congress (ANC)African National Congress (ANC) archive. Over the 3 years that I visited Fort HareFort Hare, I perused the ANCAfrican National Congress (ANC) archive and read a variety of biographiesBiographies about Mandela. I had never intended to write anything on him, because there were already plenty of books by Mandela’s friends, journalists, and other academics. When Donna Ladkin and Chellie Spiller asked me to contribute an article for their handbook on authentic leadershipAuthentic leadership, I wasn’t sure what to write about. While thinking about a topic, I noticed that a few articles on authentic leadershipAuthentic leadership asserted that Mandela was an authenticAuthentic leader. This gave me pause, because the more I had read about him, the more he seemed to be an enigma. So, I decided to use my research from Fort HareFort Hare to answer the question: Was Mandela really an authenticAuthentic leader? This paper seeks to answer that question, while also taking a critical look at the theory of authentic leadershipAuthentic leadership.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationIssues in Business Ethics
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media B.V.
Number of pages22
StatePublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameIssues in Business Ethics
ISSN (Print)0925-6733
ISSN (Electronic)2215-1680

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Philosophy


  • Anti-apartheid movement
  • Authentic leadership
  • Biography
  • de Klerk
  • Fort Hare
  • Heidegger
  • Mandela
  • Presentation of self
  • Robben Island
  • Sartre


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