Ubuntu in the Workplace: Part I
Ubuntu is a powerful community ethic of Central and South Africa. In Zulu, Ubuntu means “the universal bond of sharing that connects all of humanity.”
Another translation offered by Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee, is “I am what I am because of who we all are.”
It speaks to the impact that every individual has on the intimately woven fabric of health in any community and organization. In the workplace, Ubuntu is about cultivating relationships that consider the well-being of the whole. An Ubuntu team culture keeps team members accountable for adding value and contribution to the group intelligence – not because their job requires it, but because they recognize the power of unity and the success that comes from being on common ground. This kind of discretionary effort is what makes a good team become phenomenal.
Using Archbishop Desmond Tutu‘s definition: A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole. Tutu further explained that Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness.
Ubuntu is not just a ‘nice idea.’ Every high performance team in history has not only recognized the power of Ubuntu, they’ve strived to live it every day. Think about the top sports teams that win with team synergy – think about the Blue Angels. Even the massive success of the Blue Man Group is due to the powerful team process – the performers, the stage hands, the tech crew – all working in awesome unity to deliver a spectacular experience. This is all Ubuntu: interconnectedness.
As old workplace systems collapse and we look to a reorganization of resources and workplace culture, Ubuntu is an ethic whose time has come. Join us for Part II of Ubuntu in the Workplace next week!