Connecting Beyond Surface Level: The Power of Ubuntu in Leadership

Apr 26, 2024

Have you ever felt disconnected from a team you're part of? Whether it's with a colleague, a friend, or even a family member, this disconnect can sneak up on you, leaving you wondering what went wrong.

I've always prided myself on staying connected with my team. However, this week made me realize that our connection has some room to grow.

We flew to Chicago for a two-day team meeting. Like many companies, our work during the pandemic has primarily been remote. Although we frequently meet customers, immersive team experiences have been rare.

Instead of a typical team dinner, we organized a fellowship and gratitude event. We invited around 30 coworkers, fostering genuine human connections.

Our meetings during the days with various groups emphasized collaboration and improved teamwork. The pandemic has highlighted the value of face-to-face interactions, making our time together even more crucial.

During one of the sessions, we also delved into our values. Angela, a colleague and friend, led an insightful session where we identified our top values. I chose Spirituality, Relationships, and Joy. Interestingly, "Family" was a recurring theme among the team's top values.

Thinking of my team as family resonates with me. As a leader, caring deeply for your team is essential. Without this genuine concern, leading effectively becomes challenging, especially during tough times.

I shared a video from Netflix's "The Playbook" with my team. It highlighted the concept of Ubuntu, an African philosophy meaning "I am because we are." It emphasizes unity and prioritizing the collective good over individual interests. Doc Rivers, who led the Boston Celtics to the 2008 NBA Championship, credits Ubuntu for galvanizing his team. You can check out the episode here

Although I was familiar with Ubuntu, I realized I wasn't fully embracing it in my leadership. Moving forward, I'm committed to living by this principle.

So, how can you incorporate Ubuntu into your life? How can you shift the focus from yourself to serving others? Whether it's sending an encouraging text or making a supportive call, every effort counts.

To help you embrace Ubuntu leadership, I created a mnemonic, which always helps things become more sticky:

U - Understand: Seek emotional intelligence through empathy and understanding.

B - Believe: Show your team you believe in them, challenging them to be their best.

U - Uncover: Foster deeper conversations and relationships beyond surface level.

N - Neutral: Maintain composure during highs and lows to lead effectively.

T - Together: Emphasize teamwork and collective success over individual achievements.

U - Unleash: Encourage growth and a growth mindset within your team.

I share this reflection as a reminder to myself as much as to you. Let's embrace the Ubuntu philosophy and lead with compassion and unity.

**Hat tip to Doc Rivers, Angela Riordan, Limitless Minds & my team for the inspiration to write this : )



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