[Blog] How to Be a Highly-Effective Leader

blog Nov 18, 2022


One of the most remarkable stories from the past few decades is what happened in South Africa. Two men became unlikely partners in turning destructive chaos into something more beautiful than anyone had imagined. Nelson Mandela, the son of a tribal chief, studied law and became one of the country’s first Black attorneys. For over a century, the Whites had held Blacks, “coloreds” (a catchall term for people with brown skin whose ancestors are multiracial), and Indians in a second-class status known as apartheid. A political activist, Mandela was elected the leader of the youth branch of the African National Congress. At the time, rebel leaders in other countries were amassing armies to fight against oppression and injustice, and Mandela was convinced that armed resistance was the only hope to change racial segregation. He was arrested in 1962 for treason and conspiracy and was sentenced to life in prison and hard labor at the penal colony on Robben Island.

In 1988, Mandela was diagnosed with tuberculosis. At that time, the political landscape was beginning to shift, and less than two years later, he was released from prison. He and President F. W. de Klerk negotiated the end of apartheid, and in 1994, the first time he had been allowed to vote, Mandela was elected president of South Africa.

However, tensions remained high in the country. As a condition of the negotiations over a new constitution, de Klerk insisted on general amnesty for Whites who had committed atrocities. Blacks were still angry about the abuse, police brutality, and inequality that had kept them oppressed and poor for so many decades, and Whites were angry because their place in the culture was no longer supreme. In a brilliant stroke, Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu formed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In hearings, victims testified about being tortured and told horror stories about family members who had been murdered or disappeared. But Whites who had suffered from violence committed by the Black liberation movement also testified. Those on both sides who had committed atrocities were given a chance at amnesty, which was only granted if people were transparent and forthcoming about their crimes. The commission received over 7,000 amnesty applications, held 2,500 hearings, and granted amnesty to 1,500 people for their crimes during apartheid.

And you think you’ve got problems in your church! These two wise and courageous men (and many others who joined them in this effort) waded into the deeply embedded racial chaos of their country and provided a way for victims and perpetrators to be honest with each other. Each conversation, each testimony, and each memory of an atrocity—delivered or received—created immediate tension for those involved, but these moments offered healing, hope, understanding, and forgiveness.

Chaos can reinforce our role as lions, or it can reduce us to house cats. Be a lion.

This blog was extracted from How Leaders Create Chaos: And Why They Should! by Sam Chand. Find out how to be one of the first to get your hands on a copy of Sam Chand’s newest book on leadership by visiting us at

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