Obuntubotho – The Essence of Being Human – And of Being A Great Leader

When Bishop Desmond Tutu introduced Nelson Mandela at his inauguration as the new president of South Africa, he described him as being a man who had Obuntubotho. “Obuntubotho,” he said, “is the essence of being human. You know when it is there and when it is absent. It speaks about humanness, gentleness, putting yourself out on behalf of others, being vulnerable. It embraces compassion and toughness. It recognizes that my humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.”

Obuntubotho is not only the essence of being human. It’s the essence of great leadership, because the essence of great leadership is being human.

Who do you know in your workplace or in your life who has this quality of Obuntubotho? When you stop and pay attention, you know when it’s there, and you know when it is absent. As a leader, how are you consciously developing this quality within yourself?