The Ubuntu Leadership Model (I Am Because We Are)

“A person can only be a human through other human beings.

Jodie Hill


Jodie Hill has been on an entrepreneurial journey for the last 30 years with a career which has spanned across Australia and South Africa. Jodie is an Aussie, now living on the Central Coast, who has a love for South Africa – and she has an accent to match!


As the founder/director of Custodians of Change Jodie is educating the world towards self-sustainability and self-worth. She is passionate about helping people expand their talent, be authentically who they are and linking learning to serving a purpose outside of themselves, thereby increasing their self and net worth. Jodie loves to think about daily activities that can impact the legacy and difference we make long after our time here.


The focus of today’s conversation on The Culture of Leadership (TCoT) Podcast is Ubuntu Leadership, a philosophy that Jodie was introduced to while she was living in South Africa. Nelson Mandela lived Ubuntu and one of his quotes included the Ubuntu concept: “The profound sense that we are human only through the humanity of others; if we are to accomplish anything in this life it will in equal measure be due to the work and achievements of others.”


The actual philosophy behind Ubuntu was about preparing people for life.


Ubuntu wasn’t something that Jodie read about as it was a verbal philosophy. It wasn’t written down because a lot of people couldn’t write so instead, they used to translate the meaning of Ubuntu through verbal storytelling, song and dance. In 2017 Jodie did some studies and formally looked at Ubuntu for the first time from a theoretical point of view. She then realised that she had actually been connected and living Ubuntu because she was surrounded by it. Ubuntu already formed part of what she was.


Have you read: Is a Culture of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Important? – Erica Johnson


The most defining career moment for Jodie came when she was sent to Soweto to really find out about the people. Soweto is the largest township in South Africa, the home of 9-10 million people (including the late Nelson Mandela) and the community tend to express themselves by putting trucks on fires in the streets. Ubuntu says that every voice matters so Jodie approached this change management role by saying, “Well, look, we have to find out what’s important to these people, what’s the value to them? Because we can’t connect with them if we don’t know what’s important to them.”


The word Ubuntu comes from the Zulu and Xhosa languages. Ubuntu in Xhosa means I am because we are. It is that universal bond of sharing that connects humanity, an emphasis on humaneness or personhood which encompasses four disciplines: Respect, Fellowship, Sharing and Human Dignity.


As the ‘queen of models’ Jodie has taken the Ubuntu philosophy and prompted by her invitation to be a guest on this show, has begun to explore exactly how to create a model around Ubuntu to further explain how it can be used as a leadership term. Jodie believes that models simplify a message and allows ripples, just like throwing a stone in the water. It is very early days however, this modelling will give listeners a good sense of how to apply Ubuntu into their leadership style.


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The motto behind the Ubuntu Leadership Model is that ‘together we move from reflect to act to grow’ which forms the Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP) of the Ubuntu Model.


So, without further ado:

The Ubuntu Model




New Spirit


Unconditional Love


Click here to listen to Jodie explain the explanation behind each word she has chosen to define the Ubuntu Model and to learn more about how she successfully uses Ubuntu as a leadership style.


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