Ubuntu: “I Am Because We Are”

Kim Dowdeswell, Jenny M. Hoobler

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


While most servant leadership research originates in North America and China, the concept is gaining attention in practice and academia in South Africa, resonating with the humaneness and communality that is the African concept of ubuntu. This chapter first provides an overview of servant leadership scholarship in South Africa and then shares results of three servant leadership workshop exercises conducted with diverse South African professionals. The results confirmed most dimensions of existing servant leadership models but also included the concept of ubuntu, a worldview based in dignity and connectedness, rooted in African philosophy, causing us to reflect abductively and speculate on the possible unique nature of ubuntu’s inclusion in servant leadership in South Africa. Third, we unpack what is meant by ubuntu, examining how it has been brought into management practices in South African organizations, and then explore the relationship between ubuntu and servant leadership. We conclude with implications for research and management practices in South Africa and beyond.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Servant Leadership
EditorsS. Dhiman, G. E. Roberts
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-69802-7
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-69802-7
Publication statusPublished - 14 May 2022


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