Nelson Mandela admired by global CEOs

As the fight over the commercial spoils of the Nelson Mandela name heads for the courts, the Madiba brand has been reaffirmed to be powerful beyond measure.

A survey amongst global CEO’s revealed that Mandela is recognised by the captains of industries as one of the world’s most admired leaders in a list that seems to track admirable leadership from the dawn of modernity.

The survey conducted by professional services firm, PwC, shows Mandela ranked fourth out of the world’s top ten leaders in the study. He comes after Winston Churchill, Steve Jobs and Mahatma Gandhi.

Issued yesterday, the statement announcing the survey results coincide with an ugly fight over the Mandela brand. The legal fight seems to pitch a portion of the Mandela family as represented by his two daughters Makaziwe Mandela and Zenani Dlamini against directors of two businesses, Harmonieux Investment Holdings and Magnifique Investment Holdings, which were apparently set up to trade in Madiba’s handprints and for the benefit of his family. These directors are high profiled human rights lawyer George Bizos, politician cum businessman Tokyo Sexwale and well known lawyer Bally Chuene.

The legal fight promises to be a messy affair raising alarm from observers who are saying it will damage the Mandela brand, and more so the financial aspect of it. But the brand in its totality will survive because it largely lives in the emotional arena which is partly captured in the PwC survey in its subjectivity and limitations.

This survey was part of PwC’s 16th Annual Global CEO Survey. PwC says the survey asked 1,400 CEOs from around the world which leaders they most admired, and what they admired about their actions.

Suresh Kana, PwC Africa Senior Partner, says: “From PwC South Africa’s perspective, the fact that Nelson Mandela is regarded so highly amongst global leaders bears testimony to this great leader’s legacy, and we’re very proud to see his contribution recognised in this way”.

“He led South Africa through its years as a fledgling democracy, and the lessons that he imparted are as applicable today as they were when our country was striking out on a new and exciting path close to two decades ago. To young and old, Madiba is a symbol of hope, wisdom and empathy, and the fact that CEOs worldwide are of the same opinion, is wonderful to see.”

Other names which were ranked high in the survey include Napoleon and Alexander the Great under warriors Jack Welch under reformers, Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln under leaders through adversity Bill Clinton under consensus builders. Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi are linked to a theme of leaders who caught the imagination of the masses.

A PwC statement says Winston Churchill was the most popular choice of all CEOs with Steve Jobs admired in the most number of countries (37). “Winston Churchill has wide appeal and popularity across Western Europe, coming top in France ahead of Charles de Gaulle and beating Niccolo Machiavelli to the top spot in Italy. Twice-serving as British prime minister (1940-45;1951-55) he even manages a tie with Gandhi in Turkey, behind Mustafa Kemal Ataturk”.

The statement said some 60% of CEOs chose a post-war politician or military leader. The most popular categories were business leaders, historical leaders and contemporary leaders, in that order. Smaller categories include writers, artists, philosophers, sports people, religious leaders and fictional characters. One percent chose a colleague.

The statement added that fifteen women were named, of whom Margaret Thatcher was the only one to make the top ten. The next most-named women were Angela Merkel, Ayn Rand, Mother Theresa and Queen Elizabeth 1. Women were four times more likely to choose a female leader than men.

Michael Rendell, Global Head of PwC’s Human Resources Services, says “It’s clear that the role and expectations of leaders are changing, notwithstanding that, CEOs continue to look back over history to identify role models. The dynamic between short-term targets, longer-term goals and increased transparency ushered in by the digital revolution is breeding a new generation of agile leaders.”

The CEOs top ten leaders according to the PwC survey is as follows
1. Winston Churchill

2. Steve Jobs

3. Mahatma Gandhi

4. Nelson Mandela

5. Jack Welch

6. Abraham Lincoln

7. Margaret Thatcher

8. Ronald Reagan

9. John F Kennedy

10. Bill Clinton/Napoleon Bonaparte

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