Invictus – Power of Conscience
The excellent film, Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela is a great study in Power of Conscience leadership.
The Power of Conscience character leads by showing fairness, firmness, consistency, justice and providing a good example. These leaders believe that they have responsibility for others and a duty to protect the rights of all. They are particularly sensitive to those who are disenfranchised, disadvantaged, disabled or unable to fight for themselves. When he defeated the white Afrikaners politically he felt bound to protect their rights and interests as well. These characters believe that equality and the rule of law is humankind’s salvation.
Power of Conscience leaders tell potential supporters: “Follow me. I know what’s right. I will be just. I will be fair. I will be responsible.” They argue: “Come along and fight the good fight. Do what is right. Justice will prevail. Don’t argue. I know the right path to take.”
The insistence that they know what is right can get these leaders into trouble with supporters. This scene in Invictus, illustrates Power of Conscience leadership philosophy very succinctly.
As in Invictus, Power of Conscience characters tend to personalize their work, making their mission to improve the world an inseparable part of their own identity. In life, Mandela has said: “The struggle IS my life.”
An unwillingness to compromise on moral ground is the hallmark of these leaders. In life, Mandela never compromised his principles to avoid punishment. He refused several opportunities to get out of jail, which required him to recant or renounce one of his stands on justice or equal rights.
The best Power of Conscience leaders are “servant leaders” who have the humility to serve the greater good of others. Power of Conscience leaders teach their followers to lead by example and to be of service themselves. This is illustrated in a wonderful scene with Matt Damon, playing Springboks captain Francois Pienaar, where the two men talk of leading by example. Mandela poses the essential Power of Conscience question, “How do you inspire a people to be better than they think they are?”
Improving themselves, others and the world at large is of paramount importance to Power of Conscience characters. They are disciplined, principled and challenge others to take the moral high-ground. In life, Mandela has said, “The time is always ripe to do right.”