Neslon Mandela and the Master of Science in Hospitality Leadership

17 Jul 2014 | by Les Roches


The world has always needed good leaders. Great leaders. Leaders who are able to catalyze good, to inspire people with a long-term vision and show them that every action is a valuable contribution towards realizing that vision. And the hospitality and services industries are no exception to this need.

Nelson Mandela was a great leader and his leadership philosophy and practice have a lot to teach people from every walk of life, every discipline of work.  The new Les Roches MS in Hospitality Leadership, is a ‘leadership incubator.’  It is not built on Mandela’s principles, but nonetheless, there are points in common.

1) Mandela said: “One of the things I learned when I was negotiating was that until I changed myself, I could not change others.”

Great leaders know themselves.  They know their strengths.  They know their weakness and they go through the process of working through their weaknesses to transform them into strengths.  This quality is not just about the ability to self-reflect, it is also about honesty.  And honesty in a leader is a trust-inspiring quality.

Self-leadership is the first organizational perspective used to address leadership in the new MS.

2) Mandela said: “I have always endeavoured to listen to what each and every person in a discussion had to say before venturing my own opinion.”

Great leaders are careful listeners, able to leverage the insights of others because they understand the insights of others.  This has two important team-leadership functions.  First, it enables the best ideas to rise to the surface, and the team to move forward toward the goal; and second, it creates a culture of mutual respect, and develops a team that feels valued, is motivated, works collaboratively and is not change-adverse.

Careful listening also generates trust, which as Jonathan Perks states in this video about the Master of Science program, is key in empowering people to follow a leader.

Team-leadership is the second organizational perspective used to address leadership in the new MS.

3) Mandela said: “it always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Great business leaders always believe in their vision, but also have a solid game-plan, a strategy that enables them to move from A to B and beyond.

The MS provides students with the tools they need to develop strategies that will enable them to achieve the impossible and rise to any business challenge; the number of Les Roches alumni who are entrepreneurs testifies to how well the school imparts the right knowledge and engenders the right skills.

Business leadership is the third organizational perspective used to address leadership in the new MS.

Mandela also said: “Appearances matter. And remember to smile.”

And there, to conclude, is a lesson that all Les Roches learn, whatever degree they are studying for. And it is a practice that will stand them in good stead throughout their careers.

Les Roches MS in Hospitality Leadership was created in collaboration with industry to meet industry demands. It will give you the skills to build and lead a successful business.

Leadership is a practical skill, and learnt by doing. Practical and real-life industry assignments are integral to the MS program and form the context for the program-long mentoring and development of your leadership skills.

The MS is open now for applications and is open to university graduates aged 21 years and over.

Les Roches


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