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I Am, Because You Are: Corporate Lessons From The "Ubuntu" Philosophy

I Am, Because You Are: Corporate Lessons From The "Ubuntu" Philosophy

Posted on 23rd Dec, 2020

I Am, Because You Are: Corporate Lessons From The

Ubuntu: A Way of Being

In the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, an acclaimed Human Rights Activist and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, "Africans have a thing called Ubuntu. It is about the essence of being human, it is part of the gift that Africa will give the world. It embraces hospitality, caring about others, being willing to go the extra mile for the sake of another. We believe that a person is a person through other persons, that my humanity is caught up, bound up, inextricably, with yours. When, I dehumanize you, I inexorably dehumanize myself. The solitary human being is a contradiction in terms. Therefore, you seek to work for the common good because your humanity comes into its own in the community, in belonging."

Ubuntu, a word from the Nguni family of languages which is spoken in southern Africa, has earned recognition world over today, due to the simple yet intensely effective essence of the word itself - symbolizing a philosophy whichemphasizes the fact that we are all connected to each other in one way or the other, and that one can only grow and advance through the growth and advancement of others.

Visualizing Ubuntu in the Corporate World

To visualize the benefits of bringing an ubuntu-based framework into our organizations, let us bring to forth the image of communities or villages (settings in which Ubuntu has thrived and transcended generations!), which will not thrive unless the king, queen, or chief at the helm, has a vision for the people. Thinking about a community where there is a delineated leader, individuals with specific tasks and responsibilities, a hierarchical structure (which may as fluid or rigid as necessary), and a common goal - of everyone's growth, it is easy now to draw parallels, between such communities and the businesses and organizations of the corporate world which have similar structures.

Adopting an Ubuntu Management Philosophy at Work

With this vision in mind, in promulgating the Ubuntu way to our benefit, within our corporate spheres, we can encourage:

  • Interconnectedness of everyone to each other and to their surroundings

  • A system free of isolation: An understanding that we are all part of a larger circle - a large system that affects us and that we are affected by

  • A philosophy of it being every person’s duty to share and contribute to the business/organization

  • An innate sense and promotion of fairness and brotherhood, and an emphasis on individual and group integrity, as well as the acceptance of various outlooks and diverse thought process

What an Ubuntu Management Style Offers Us?

In adopting the Ubuntu management philosophy, as some companies in Africa (e.g., South African Airways) have popularly demonstrated, some trends which have been seen to clearly emerge within the corporate world includeseveralsought-after values, which could all individually and together contribute very positively towards an organization’s growth, including but not limited to:

  • Corporate Performance

  • Integrity

  • Customer Orientation

  • Safety

  • Employee Care

  • Innovation

  • Corporate Citizenship

  • Teamwork