Sally Allen: Where are the leaders today to inspire, motivate and unite people?

Francois Pienaar mirrored the brilliant leadership skills of Nelson Mandela

Francois Pienaar mirrored the brilliant leadership skills of Nelson Mandela - Credit: Archant

Frighteningly, it appears that on both sides of the Atlantic we seem to have lost the plot – or rather our leaders have.

It seems crazy to me that in USA with a population of over 328 million the best two candidates that they can come up with are Trump and Biden who are both in their 70s. In the UK it appears squabbles are rife at Number 10 and that Carrie is now taking the lead. It is a shambles.

Heartbreakingly, Trump has been fanning the flames of hate for the past four years and convincing anyone who wants to listen that all information in the media is bogus.

He hasn’t even taken a stand against the White Supremist groups which are gaining momentum. This is a terrible state of affairs – no matter who finally wins the election.

I take you back to a very special date in history - February 11, 1990 - when Nelson Mandela (Madiba) was released from prison after 27 years of debilitating hard labour and awful abuse.

Yet when he was released, he became the world’s greatest unifier and bore no malice against those who had abused him and whom, at one point, were even going to hang him.

From being a freedom fighter for equality in his own country, he became a true world leader who was respected by all.

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In 1995, South Africa won the Rugby World Cup against all the odds – but Mandela had instilled a passion into the Springboks captain Francois Pienaar to help to unite the Rainbow Nation by winning the coveted Webb Ellis Trophy.

Prior to the final, inspired by Madiba’s words and ambition, Francois took the team to Robben Island to Mandela’s cell, to explain to all the players the importance of what they could achieve by winning the cup.

Francois Pienaar’s life has been defined by captaining his homeland to success over New Zealand in the final at Ellis Park on June 24, 1995.

Never has a sporting occasion meant more in the context of its political and cultural significance.

That day the nation’s ability to move on from the racist oppression that resulted in the subjugation of the black majority became a reality.

Francois mirrored the brilliant leadership skills of his first black president, Nelson Mandela.

Just after this amazing achievement we secured Francois to become a Guinness Ambassador as part of their rugby sponsorship which I was working on, so I got to know him extremely well.

I have been asked to represent a number of sports personalities but had always avoided it, as mostly they are horrendously unreliable to put it politely – but Francois was, and is, different.

This is a man who can change the atmosphere in a room by just walking into it - unlike the shockingly badly cast Matt Damon in the film Invictus.

So, first off, I got him a book deal with one of my other clients HarperCollins and then did a deal with ITV for him to head-up the expert summariser team for the next Rugby World Cup.

In his first season on ITV he won an award for his brilliant analysis and presentation.

Francois was incredibly close to Madiba, who became godfather to his two sons – his influence is palpable even now. Both men had won against the odds. Both from humble origins, they showed incredible leadership and inspired millions.

Where are the leaders today to inspire, motivate and unite people for the good of all?

Politics aside, Donald Trump as a man, in my view, has never aspired ‘to make America great again’ – it has always been about feeding his massive ego and he hasn’t cared about how he has turned American against American. Sad days indeed.