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Healing leadership: Be a baobab for your organizations.


On this Earth Day, I invite everyone to highlight our fundamental connection to nature by taking inspiration from an emblematic African tree: the baobab. The mythical baobab – found in numerous African countries from the Saharan south to the forests of Madagascar – is powerfully symbolic in our collective imaginations. It’s a sacred and revered tree for many cultures. It’s called the medicine tree or the pharmacist's tree because in traditional African pharmacopoeia, every part of the baobab (roots, bark, leaves, pulp and seeds) is used in preparing many remedies.

After choosing the baobab as a symbol, it took root in our organization. Its medicinal properties remind me of the human qualities found in transforming leaders. Today, we even speak of healing leaders.

Three inspiring qualities of the baobab

The baobob is recognized first as a natural fortifier. Baobab fruit pulp (bouye) contains some of the highest levels of vitamin C, calcium and essential trace elements. This pulp is also rich in fibre and antioxidants, earning it the title of “superfood.” The baobab is an exceptional source of energy for those who consume its nutrients.

If I draw a parallel with the exercise of leadership, my years of observation as a coach of leaders, cause me to say that those who make a difference in their environment are those who act as fortifiers among people. They re-energize us. They are generous, fair and humble people, whose intentions, words and actions are well aligned with their values. Collaborating and exchanging with these leaders also helps me as a guide to recharge my batteries and grow internally.

The baobab’s second quality that inspires me greatly is its ability to relieve symptoms related to inflammatory diseases (stomach pain, muscle pain, etc.). It’s also a powerful antioxidant with an extraordinary composition that helps to regenerate the body. If I make the link to organizations, I see that the greatest source of stress and distress at work is found in situations that people have difficulty “digesting.” Most of the time, these issues concern human relations with managers and within teams. And, in my opinion, this type of ailment can be relieved quickly and cost-free with natural remedies that are the presence, attentive listening, judgement, right words, and coherent gestures of a healing leader.

Lastly, the baobab’s third quality that I admire is its symbolic role on a spiritual level. Called the tree of life, or palaver tree, the baobab serves as a shelter against bad weather or extreme heat for travelers. Legend has it that the old baobabs also serve as a place to connect with ancestral spirits, to communicate with the beyond. Like the baobab tree, transformative leaders are (sometimes in spite of themselves) sources of inspiration and wisdom, and safe havens where you can catch your breath. “The strength of the baobab is in its roots,” says the African proverb. Transformational leadership also develops by acting from deep beliefs and constructs. This is exactly what Concilium Capital Humain offers: support for people and organizations moving towards success in harmony with their intentions and fundamental values.

It so happens that I am called the “baobab,” because I am one who enjoys bringing people together to reconcile them within themselves and with others. This fills me with joy and gratitude, and it is with the greatest humility that I try to embody as best I can the same virtues as this tree that is so precious to my heart.

Hubert Mpso Makwanda

President, Mentor and Strategic Advisor, Concilium Capital Humain