• 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 April 17, 2018
      See also the previous Wild Reed posts:• Spring's Snowy Start• Farewell Winter• Out and About – Winter 2017-2018Image: Michael J. Bayly.
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
    • The Spring Blizzard of 2018 April 14, 2018
      It's being called a blizzard and a winter storm of "historic" proportions. I'm opting to acknowledge the season we're actually in (as hard as it may be to believe) and calling it the spring blizzard of 2018. . . . And, yes, it's still very much happening right now in the Twin Cities and across southern Minnesota.I was out in it […]
      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

    • Mystical Czech artist, Marie Brozova February 22, 2018
      About Life, Universe and All…The luminous Czech artist, Marie Brozova, creator of the wonderful 'Forest Shaman' painting featured on my blog, lives with her husband and seven cats deep in a Czech forest - without electricity or running water. No computers, no cell phones, no TV. Only the silence and the sounds of nature and the spirits. Artist Mari […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Richard Demma)
    • SPICING UP THE CHURCH: February 14, 2018
      Here is the website of the wonderful meeting group for gay Christians in the Czech republic, Logos. And below is their position statement. Check them out. Logos – Gay Christians in the Czech RepublicWe are an ecumenical fellowship of gay and lesbian Christians and their friends, in which we share our faith in all its diverse manifestations, and try to suppor […]
      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

    • RIP: Barbara Bush April 19, 2018
      Sad to hear that Barbara Bush has died. She was a Republican but I liked her ... her championing of reading, her fearless un-dyed white hair, her book about/by Millie the dog :) .... she was admirable and authentic. Here's more about her from the PBS NewsHour ...
      noreply@blogger.com (crystal)
  • Advertisements

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”

Advertisements

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 )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ 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 )

w

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: