go site Ubuntu. What the heck is ubuntu? Is it a new model of a Dodge Truck? Is it a type of long-horned bovine? Might ubuntu be an exotic bacterium? Nope. It is none of these. But I guarantee that ubuntu is something you’re going to want. And so will your employees.

Ubuntu is a term of South African origin. I describe it as a kind of figurative glue. It’s an emulsifier that holds together the fabric of society. Without it, everything – including your organization – could fall apart. With it, you can achieve heights you never thought possible.

It all starts with a change of perspective.

The glue of ubuntu serves to strengthen what all people have in common, and to diminish our differences. At the time of this writing, I believe our nation is faltering in this regard as we highlight our differences rather than attend to the shared connections that make all of us human.

I do not ascribe this to our nation alone; the weakness is also rampant in our organizations. Diversity makes us stronger, but diversity is nothing if it is not rooted in ubuntu.

In English, ubuntu means, “I am, because we are.” A Zulu saying, “Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu,” means “a person is a person through other persons.” And summarizing Desmond Tutu, retired Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, “my humanity depends on yours.” When ubuntu thrives, so do we all. Ubuntu is a barrier to the divisive winds that separate and devalue people. It builds up individuals for the sake of the whole community. One might communicate this by saying, “my own success is determined by yours.”

Ubuntu is a culture that respects. It shares. It connects rather than separates. It reduces infighting and builds trust. Ubuntu listens. It gives. It gathers and it shares.

You may be surprised to learn that ubuntu can support a capitalist’s drive to achieve and to be greatly compensated. But it also expects – does not demand – the best from us as well. Ubuntu achievements come with obligations to others, to invest some of the fruits of our success for the wellbeing of all. This is not socialism. The law does not demand it, but the heart does.

http://telegra.ph/Kupit-Govnishko-Irbit-04-16 This may all sound utopian. It’s not. If hatred and divisiveness can be learned, so can love.

Your corporate culture is at stake, and that corporate culture starts at the top. It’s up to you to demonstrate ubuntu so it can be learned by others. This culture cannot be created by fiat; it must be demonstrated by you.

Here’s what you need to do to get started. Drive yourself to demonstrate the following actions: Listen. Give. Help. Encourage. Mentor. Serve. But there’s more – these are only fodder for my second charge: Flourish. Prosper. Profit. Succeed. Earn. Grow.

When you invest earnestly in others, you build your own world as well. Plant. Sew. Reap. Plant. That’s the cycle of ubuntu. It’s a personal mantra that can become a corporate culture. Moreover, it’s a kind of corporate culture that can change the world.

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4 Responses to Ubuntu

  1. Jonathan says:

    No need to adopt foreign terminology. You already have “E pluribus Unum”, which even a Scarecrow could comprehend.

  2. Bob Souer says:

    Excellent thoughts, Jeffrey; though I admit the title of your post made me wonder if you were going to write about Linux.

  3. Maria says:

    Jeffrey: Nicely done. Let me point out a difference between “ubuntu” and “E Pluribus Unum” (which, by the way, also is “foreign” terminology. . . .): while ubuntu builds up and connects individuals with a focus on helping each to move together toward success, “E Pluribus Unum” (a valid and honorable motto created for a fledgling country, made up of varied nationalities and ethnicities, that was working to become one nation) focuses on the “unum” – building up the one, sometimes at the expense of the many. Your message emphasizes that difference, with a call toward working together – a kind of “high tide raises all boats” message. It makes sense, and is a message worth repeating. Thanks for the post.

    • Jeffrey Tobin says:

      Maria: What great clarity you’ve brought to this. I’ve had a few personal emails stating that “E Pluribus Unum” and “Ubuntu” are synonyms. Your comment makes the distinction very clear. Of course, one might expect that from an attorney! Thank you.

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