Nelson Mandela & Psychological Capital

Psychological Capital is an individuals positive psychological state of development.  And that state can be broken down into four buckets;

  • Hope. A belief in the ability to persevere toward goals and find paths to reach them.
  • Efficacy. The confidence that one can put forth the effort to affect outcomes – capacity to produce an effect.
  • Resilience. The ability to bounce back in the face of adversity or failure.
  • Optimism. A generally positive view of work and the potential of success.
In my opinion all great leaders have this HERO state conquered and as I reflect on Nelson Mandela I see it in his actions, his character and his legacy.  And if you think about people you consider to be great leaders and measure them against these four buckets I bet you will see they had a high degree of psychological capital.  In fact I think you can’t have a great leader with having psychological capital.  I think they are symbiotic and that psychological capital determines the opportunity for greatness.  
I had the pleasure of listening to Mr. Mandela speak at the Opening Ceremonies for the 2003 World Special Olympics in Dublin, Ireland.  Thanks to my good friend the Millsonator for giving me the opportunity and the access.  I remember leaving inspired and understanding that I had been witness to a great leader.  My favourite line from his speech; “The Special Olympics give telling testimony to the indestructibility of the human spirit and of our capacity to overcome hardships and obstacles.”  He knew what he was talking about, ‘indestructibility of the human spirit’…27 years in prison.  Indestructibility.  
My challenge for you isn’t to emulate Mr. Mandela, although aiming high is not a bad idea, instead assess your own psychological capital, and do it honestly, then build on it and be aware of how being a HERO with hope, resilience and optimism you can indeed produce a great effect and great results with great people.  
I have worked with and for many leaders, some great, some not really leaders.  The great ones had psychological capital.  The great ones I wanted to be like, I wanted to be around, I wanted to follow and I wanted to listen to…the great ones I can tell great stories about hope, efficacy, resilience and optimism.  So here is my question; what kind of stories will they tell about you?

If you are interested in his speech from 2003 World Special Olympics here is a link.


  • Wayne Dorris
    Posted at 21:57h, 09 December

    Hope, Efficacy, Resilience, Optimism are great qualities. I would add emotional intelligence to complete the picture. Mandela was able to identify and manage his emotions and redirect his energy in a positive, constructive direction.

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