The Energy Flow of Kuleana (Responsibility)

When I do strength and talent assessments in my coaching, I find that Kuleana, the value that drives personal responsibility, is one of the most universal ones of them all.

It is something we all grew up with. We got our first taste of it when we were assigned those chores that would enroll us as well-functioning, full participants in the family’s productivity of living. Simple things like making your bed each morning, doing the dishes right after a meal, and taking out the trash would start to create good habits for us. We were learning to be responsible, and to derive satisfaction from it.

When you simply ask employees: What do you feel your Kuleana is? You will often get answers like this, equating a sense of responsibility to basic good behavior:

Come to work on time, do all that is expected of you.

Set a good example. Practice what you preach.

Keep your promises.

Remember that actions speak louder than words.

The longer you keep the brainstorming going, the more they relate it to their job:

Finish what you start. Don’t leave it for the next shift.

Stay healthy, understanding that your contributions to the workplace are important and others are counting on you.

We are all responsible for the caring of our guests and customers.

Keep the conversation going, and you are very likely to find that employees have bigger expectations of themselves and their responsibilities than their managers do.

There is an energy flow I talk about in Managing with Aloha that is associated with Kuleana, the Hawaiian value of responsibility, and I thought I’d share with you. We talk about it quite a bit in my classes, however it is also pretty self-explanatory.

The Energy Flow of Kuleana

As we GROW, our acceptance of greater RESPONSIBILITY grows too.

ONE who accepts Responsibility

will take INITIATIVE, seeking the OPPORTUNITY to do so.


for it is the opportunity to be ENGAGED in a WORTHWHILE endeavor.

Saying “This is my KULEANA”

Verbalizes one’s OWNERSHIP of the RESPONSIBILITY that was accepted.

EMPOWERMENT results from that OPPORTUNITY that had been captured.

We GROW, and we seek more OPPORTUNITY to be RESPONSIBLE again.

The Take-Away for Managers:

The MANAGER who has learned to DELEGATE well as a means of enabling GROWTH
has learned to tap into this natural flow of energy that Kuleana creates.

DELEGATION is about shining a bright light on OPPORTUNITY.

The opportunity to grow is a gift a manager gives to those they manage. These Kuleana classes I do are among my favorite ones. We help managers create gift lists of incredible trust in their staff. It is always good worthy stuff and not busy-work.

Makes my travel worth it.