Madiba is widely viewed as the father of the nation and the new SA. At the risk of sanctifying Madiba, there is much that Ramaphosa can learn from his leadership style and approach, as well as that of Thabo Mbeki and Zuma after him. Madiba was one of those rare leaders who never aimed to become a leader because of his own aspirations or ego, but stepped into the leadership role because there was a job to be done. It is thus not surprising that Madiba was the quintessential servant leader; a servant to all the peoples of his beloved rainbow nation, transcending self-interest even when he had to make huge personal sacrifices.
Madiba inspired trust by being a man of integrity and was therefore trustworthy. His courage and resilience carried him through many years of deprivation, giving him the mental and moral strength to persevere, to achieve, and to serve the renewedSA for which he cared for so deeply.
Having had the courage to stand up for what was right and what needed to be done made him a powerful transformational leader. He was not afraid to put his political career at risk to do the right thing, even when he had to make unpopular decisions. He made huge strides to build a unified nation at a time when emotions were at their highest and tension was at a breaking point. He had the unique ability to read the situation and to do the right thing in the moment, but still combined within a longer term view and big picture thinking.
One of the reasons why Madiba could bring about significant change is because he was always full of hope. He never gave into despair, even when he was in prison, but connected emotionally with others and inspired hope also in them. In times of difficulty, people look at their leaders as symbols of hope.