• RSS Queering the Church

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • RSS Spirit of a Liberal

    • Gonna Stick My Sword in the Golden Sand September 15, 2014
      Gonna Stick My Sword in the Golden Sand: A Vietnam Soldier's Story has just been released. The title comes from a stanza of the gospel traditional, Down by the Riverside, with its refrain--"Ain't gonna study war no more." Golden Sand is a bold, dark, and intense retelling of the Vietnam experience through the eyes of an army scout that is […]
      Obie Holmen
    • Gay Games Symposium July 21, 2014
      I am pleased and honored that the UCC has asked me to moderate a symposium during the games entitled Queer Christians: Celebrating the Past, Shaping the Future. [[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
      Obie Holmen
  • RSS There Will be Bread

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • RSS The Wild Reed

    • Photo of the Day October 15, 2017
      See also the previous Wild Reed posts:• Autumn . . . Within and Beyond• O Sacred Season of Autumn• "Thou Hast Thy Music Too"• Autumn Beauty• Autumn Leaves• Autumn Hues• The Last of Autumn Hues• From the Falls to the River• Autumn DanceImage: Michael J. Bayly.
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
    • Michael Greyeyes' "Role of a Lifetime" October 13, 2017
      An artist I greatly admire – actor, dancer, and choreographer Michael Greyeyes – is set to portray the Hunkpapa Lakota holy man Sitting Bull in the upcoming film, Woman Walks Ahead. The film, directed by Susanna White, tells the real-life story of 19th-century artist and activist Caroline Weldon (Jessica Chastain) who in 1889 traveled from New York City to t […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
  • RSS Bilgrimage

  • RSS Enlightened Catholicism

  • RSS Far From Rome

    • the way ahead March 23, 2013
      My current blog is called the way ahead.
      noreply@blogger.com (PrickliestPear)
  • RSS The Gay Mystic

    • Christmas at Litmanova December 29, 2016
      The Marian Shrine of Litmanova, Slovakia.Christmas 2017A forest chapel at the Slovakian Marian shrine of Litmanova.Stunning painting of the Sacred Heart inside the forest chapel.
      noreply@blogger.com (Richard Demma)
    • Not Our President November 16, 2016
      To hear the simplistic denial of those who scream out with naiveté “give Trump a chance” as they condemn others engaged in selfless protest against a certain political and social tsunami in the making, is to ignore his life-time public embrace of policies that tens of millions reject as not just destructive, but evil per se. They are not mistaken.Those in st […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Richard Demma)
  • RSS The Jesus Manifesto

    • Another World is Neccessary: Anarchism, Christianity and the Race from the White House July 30, 2008
      I’ll be presenting at the upcoming Jesus Radicals conference in Columbus, Ohio. My session (on the relationship between Church and State) will be on Friday afternoon. If you’re in the area, drop by. I’d love to meet some of the folks who frequent this site. Here’s the info: August 15-16, 2008 St. John’s Episcopal 1003 W Town Columbus, OH [...]ShareThis […]
      Mark Van Steenwyk
  • RSS John McNeill: Spiritual Transformations

  • RSS Perspective

    • A movie and a book October 14, 2017
      The latest book I've been reading from the public library is House of Spies: a Novel by former journalist Daniel Silva. It's the 17th book in the spy series about art restorer and Israeli agent Gabriel Allon. I've read all the books in the series and enjoyed them all. This one is very good so far. Here's an interview with Silva about the […]
      noreply@blogger.com (crystal)

Leadership Lessons from Sport: Rugby World Cup, 1995

I have never been greatly interested in sort (cricket aside).  Back in South Africa, my habitual lack of interest in most sports changed towards hostility to the game of rugby, which for so long was closely identified with the symbols and structure of apartheid. However, I vividly remember how, for a time in 1995 , it seemed that rugby might become what had previously been completely unimaginable – a unifying, nation-building interest that could cut across racial and ethnic divisions.

That his could have happened was largely the work of two men in particular – Nelson Mandela, who as president refused to bear any grudges against the history and political stances taken by the rugby administrators in times gone by, and instead threw his support behind the national team when the country hosted the game’s World Cup; and the South African rugby captain, Francois Pienaar, who likewise set aside the suspicion shown by many of his fellow Afrikaners towards our new president, and gladly accepted his support.  The national response was extraordinary.  People from all racial and political backgrounds began to try to understand the rules and subtleties of a game that most of the country had previously ignored, while the traditional rugby supporters adopted as a sporting anthem a rousing song, “Shosholoza“, which had been    previously been known as a song sung by black migrant workers – and had strong associations of workers pulling together to get a job done. When in an extraordinary dying seconds drama, the final ended in a home team victory, in their first world cup since readmission to world sport, the national mood was euphoric.

Sadly, the magic did not last. The memory however lived on, and was retold in a book by John Carlin, then turned into what looks like will be a highly successful file, “Invictus”. At NCR On-line, theologian Richard McBrien uses the film for a useful reflection contrasting the leadership styles of Nelson Mandela and that typically adopted by Catholic bishops – a contrast in which the bishops do not come out as good role models.

This is the opening of McBrien’s piece:

Clint Eastwood’s latest film, “Invictus” (Latin, “Unconquered”), stars Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa who served 27 years as a political prisoner in that country, and Matt Damon as Francois Pienaar, the captain of the national rugby team that Mandela used — successfully — as a means to bring the racially divided nation together.

During his long years of incarceration, Mandela studied his Afrikaner enemies, not only learning their language but understanding the role that sports, especially rugby, played in their psyche.

Their national team, known as Springbok, was beloved by the whites and despised by the black population, to whom it had become a symbol of their oppression by the Afrikaner government. When Mandela’s supporters (modern political terminology would call them his “base”) demanded that the team be dismantled, renamed, and their colors and logo banned, Mandela balked, against the advice of some of his closest black advisers.

To follow the will of his base, he believed, would only confirm the fears of the Afrikaner minority that Mandela’s election in 1994 would initiate a period of revenge and recrimination. He wished instead to pursue a program of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Enlisting the team’s captain to his side, Mandela challenged Pienaar to turn his team’s losing ways around and to bring his players, as any good leader should, to exceed their present expectations.

The film, Newsweek critic David Ansen wrote, is about “strategic inspiration.”

“We witness a politician at the top of his game,” Ansen observed. “Freeman’s wily Mandela is a master of charm and soft-spoken gravitas.” It is a film, Ansen noted, that is “such a soul-searching story — one that would be hard to believe if it were fiction. The wonder of ‘Invictus’ is that it actually went down this way.”

It is not only Mandela who is shown exercising effective leadership. The captain of the Springboks is also adept at leadership. Even after his meeting with Mandela in the presidential office, Pienaar doesn’t force anything on his teammates.

He asks that they learn the lyrics of their new national anthem. When many of them strongly object, he doesn’t force the issue. He makes it clear, however, that he will be learning it. He works his team hard, and leads by showing himself as willing as the others to follow the new work ethic.

Read the full post at “What Effective Leadership Looks Like”


One Response

  1. If there was an image to be treasured from all the sporting achievements of the year, it was the sight of Nelson …

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: