Dealing with bullies and conflict the aloha way

Today’s snippet from my Chautauqua:

I deeply appreciate what you have said so far, and value the perspective of talking from a very pro-active and positive set of values. However I would like to invite a bit of a turn in this conversation.

Do you have any Aloha-wisdom to offer about how team members and their managers should deal with bullying and conflicts among staff teams? What values might inspire how to manage such dysfunction among staff?
Ann Lawless

Aloha Ann,

I’m smiling as I write this, for the “turn” you are asking for in the conversation was actually a major stimulus in the initial writing of my book. There was a story to be told.

There is a recurring storyline in Managing with Aloha about a group of watermen called the Alaka‘i Nalu and my adventures in managing them. When they first came under my wing they were as dysfunctional a team as you would find, with conflicts both within the team and in their interdepartmental relationships. They’ve now received some notoriety having been featured in the book as a significant success story, and they tell everyone, “yes, we were Rosa’s guinea pigs.” However the truth is that they provided me with one of the best proving grounds for why managing with aloha works.

Bullying and conflict calls for immediate resolution, and in Hawaii there is a process for it that is called Ho‘oponopono: Pono is the value of balance and rightness, and when you bring people together in the Ho‘oponopono process you are facilitating the journey they need to take to rightness together. Managers must take responsibility for being the facilitators of Ho‘oponopono in their organizations as soon as the need for it rears its ugly head.

Other values which are very helpful are Lōkahi (harmony and unity) and Kākou (togetherness and inclusiveness). In the case of the Alaka‘i Nalu these two values combined into something we called The Lesson of the Six Seats as an alternative way to look at teamwork that calls for creative cooperation and collaboration. There are many work situations in which that adage “all of us are smarter than one of us” is so true, and The Lesson of the Six Seats helps employees understand how their willingness to partner and not oppose is in their best interest. Not only do they realize they need each other, they begin to enjoy each other more.

For more, see page 119 of my book for The Lesson of the Six Seats: I would also refer you to The Lōkahi Challenge for Managers on page 107 which explains the manager’s role.

As a whole, we started the journey to aloha with the Alaka‘i Nalu in uncovering the values they all shared and believed in. We then talked about those values constantly, incorporating them into the day-to-day language of their work lives. They wrote a mission statement focused on living those values, and growing within them. They committed to their mission easily because it was personal — it wasn’t just the company’s mission (although the company would benefit too) — it was theirs.

For more, Join us in the Main Tent, at

Related posts:
An update on the Chautauqua.

Work World Myth #8: There is a little more within this post about The Lesson of the Six Seats.

Working and Living with Aloha: About my Fridays with the Alaka‘i Nalu.

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