Leaders with the inherent values of ubuntu, as it might relate to leader/follower interaction, have been described as, people-centered, humble, ready to enter into dialogue, caring, polite, tolerant, considerate, hospitable and as having an attitude of mutual acceptance or mutuality, amongst other descriptors. An ubuntu-based approach in leadership sees community rather that self-determination as the essential aspect of personhood. It is in reference to the community that a person is defined. The Venda saying, “Muthu u bebelwa munwe – A person is born for the other”, captures the spirit of this approach of interdependence between self and community. This is more than mere interdependence, the identity of the “self” is defined in finding the “other” in community. It is in seeing and entering into honest dialogue and interaction based on mutuality with the “other” that the “self” is enriched, formed and defined.
The leadership value of mutuality in ubuntu allows for the breaking down of the superficial and artificial barriers between the “actors” in the leadership exchange and allows both leader and follower to see the “other”, discover their mutual humanity and in doing so foster the construction of a caring community that allows for the respectful tolerance of social, cultural, economic and philosophical differences.
The links between this values-based approach in leadership and the Christian values of kenosis and incarnation are obvious. This needs to be explored further.