Our May Ho‘ohana: Lōkahi

This time, a short preface first.

I usually write the skeleton of a draft for our monthly Ho‘ohana essay weeks in advance so that I can live with it for a while. Long before my first draft, my plotting on which value would fall on each month happened way back during my Ho‘omaha (my annual year-end sabbatical) for in my pursuit of a more logical mind, I plan them as I write my SLC strategic plan for the coming year. I am that extremely fortunate self-employed writer for whom my work and my writing blend into my life, and when it comes to our monthly Ho‘ohana, there is no need to separate them. Further, it makes more sense for me not to; essentially it’s the “common sense” part of what I do as a coach.

When I pulled out the Ho‘ohana essay draft for May this past weekend to polish it up, I marveled at how perfectly timed it ended up to be. I am constantly filled with gratefulness when I experience the extraordinary synchronicity of how things happen when they are needed most.   The context of life at this moment in time helped me focus pretty sharply; I cut more out of that draft than I put in: There are several dynamics to consider in Lōkahi, however, we need to focus on the most critical one, on the core understanding of it.

As I somewhat hinted to in this recent article, Community, and the Responsibility of Leadership, and as we in the SLC ‘Ohana in Business are experiencing in the coaching projects we have happening right now, if there is any one thing most on our minds these days, it has to do with how teams of people work together. I believe that managers make the difference. Thus, our Ho‘ohana for this month:

How managers impact teams.

It isn’t easy for someone who is a high performer individually to bring that same level of performance intensity to a team of peers, no matter how much admiration and mutual respect may exist among the group. It takes constant work, and huge helpings of humility. It takes a strong desire to even try.

Where can those high performing individuals get that coaching, and that support, so that they will make the effort?

From a great manager.

As a workplace coach, what I love about Lōkahi is the mentorship it gives managers in understanding their role, sharpening their focus, and becoming that great.

This is what one of my mentors in Hawaiian values wrote about Lōkahi in his book;

“In today’s parlance, the combination of Laulima [many hands] and kōkua [helpfulness] means ‘teamwork.’ Each member of the group has a clearly defined assignment, but all members are collaborating in lōkahi, or unity, subordinating personal glory to reaching the goals of the whole group. However, this demands from management a continuing attention to interpersonal relations, assigning and clarifying jobs, deliberating and communicating. All this, requires leadership.”

—Dr. George Kanahele, in KÅ« Kanaka, Stand Tall, A Search for Hawaiian Values

You can see a partial reprint of what I had written about Lōkahi in MWA, on our Community Forum page.

Put simply, Lōkahi is about how people work together, and the manager must focus on creating the climate in which people who work together can perform best, and excel. That is the critical, core understanding I mentioned edarlier in my preface. Managers have to focus on people over task, and the full, complex kaleidoscope of working dynamics when people must work together toward a common objective while aligned in a unifying mission.

Lōkahi forces the issue with managers: Are you doing your single most important job of optimizing the way in which your people work? Do you understand that coaching workplace behavior is essentially all you do when you manage well?

From MWA Jumpstart:

Managing with Aloha is fundamentally about strengths management evolving to personal and organizational value alignment, and how managers deliberately, intentionally, and responsibly work with their staff so they are high performers who love what they do.

In Managing with Aloha I only began the discussion when I presented this overview in the section called The Lōkahi challenge for managers. From MWA page 107:

Lōkahi challenges managers to be the best possible project leaders of group endeavors in a couple of different ways. It affords the manager checklists on

  • group assembly and assignment
  • the health of the mission and clarity of desired outcomes, and
  • just-right pace and momentum.

All these things are crucial to maintaining the Lōkahi of harmony within a work team. Three short phrases which allude to a whole lot of behavioral complexity. In our Ho‘ohana this month we will seek to break the complex into some new energy we can harness in our own personal work, i.e. in our own ho‘ohana.

Hard? Perhaps, but it doesn’t have to be.

Even if it is, is it worth it? Gloriously so!

This is what management is all about, and this is why it is a calling for those who choose it and accept its profound responsibility.

Our Ho‘ohana Community is about being Lōkahi, and doing it together.

This month I challenge everyone in the Ho‘ohana Community to take a leadership role with their own Lōkahi challenges. We look forward to another of our Ho‘ohana Community Forums on Friday, May 26th, this time on what we see as the needed Reinventions at Work and in Business. No sacred cows, no automatic pilot, no settling for mediocrity. Innovation and reinvention. Bravery and beauty in the triumphs of exceptional work done together, with great managers leading the charge.

This month we seek to elevate the ways in which we work together. We seek collaboration and cooperation. We seek harmony and unity. We seek alignment in our values. We seek to value our differences while we strive for agreement in a third alternative we could not have come to without each other. We seek joy in the pleasures of working with those we admire intellectually, emotionally, and in spirit.

We seek Lōkahi

Ho‘ohana with me, and with the rest of our Ho‘ohana Community, learn more about Lōkahi and manage with aloha in celebration of all the wonderful people with whom you work on-purpose and within your passion and spirit.

And through it all, let’s talk story and connect. We need not go it alone, ever.


More, About our Monthly Ho‘ohana themes

About our Ho‘ohana Community

About our Community Learning Forums

About Managing with Aloha as workplace philosophy

About the MWA Jumpstart coaching program

Our Community Learning continues. Past MWA and Talking Story
on what makes a manager great
on no automatic pilot

on no settling for mediocrity
on workplace reinvention


  1. Roger Potter says

    How can managers be effective coaches???
    Let me start out by stating a few sayings that I have heard from Fantastic CEO’s.
    Lee Iocoaco of Ford Fame said in his book that the two jobs of a business owner are to
    find people better than you and let them run
    your business And your other job is to keep
    finding other avenues of Revenue.
    Jack Welch of Gen Elec said that a Good Manager knows his people and knows their strenghts and weaknesses, and where best to
    put them.
    Financial Literacy/Entreprenual Spirit/What
    Makes a Great Coach or Why can’t some coaches
    Financial literacy is an area that is not taught in school the way it should be. In the book ‘Rich Dad – Poor Dad’ the author
    points out that teachers specially in high
    school really don’t understand it – so how
    can you teach it. In my dealings with the
    accounting of various companies I have seen it first hand that once the books get jammed
    up they just hire another person instead of
    having someone clean the books first Then
    hiring someone who does know what their doing.
    In talking with a owner some a few years ago they told me that for every ten people that come to apply and are given a math test Only 4 out of 10 pass And these are high school graduates. This is one of the contributing
    problems facing every company.
    The problem then becomes how do you coach a
    bookkeeper/accountant to do good. Well if
    you don’t understand accounting – you can’t,
    and way too many business owners don’t understand accounting, but they take a course
    and think they do.
    This also applies to all the departments of
    a company. The manager needs to sit down with first off all the employees and say we
    have a job to do to make this company successful – let’s combine our talents and our strengths for the forward motion of success. Then the manager should sit down
    with each of the people and find out eachs
    depth of knowledge and expertise and Allow
    them to do their work Unempided, but with
    checks and balances. This is where companies
    fail – they feel ‘well’ since I know something about this and that ‘therefore’ I
    will guide them.
    The entreprenual spirit. There is a big difference between an entreprenual spirit and
    an entreprenuer. The problem is a lot of business owners don’t know the difference.
    In a previous post I have talked about this.
    The other problem is companies don’t take the
    time to Listen to their people – but good
    coaches do because there are a Lot of Big
    companies out there and they must be doing
    something right.
    Even Donald Trump says that in order to become hugely successful You must listen to
    your people to find out what’s going on and
    take advantage of the situation.
    Another reason companies don’t succeed even
    with good coaching is because they may want
    only harmony in the company as opposed to
    strong individuals. There is a magazine called ‘Entreprenuer’ that is filled with
    stories of employees who had visions for their companies that employed them but were
    fired because either they didn’t ‘Fit’ in or
    were too this or too that – so these people
    took all their Drive, Passion, Energy and
    used it for themselves.
    Just think of what could have happened to
    that company if a good coach would have strove to tap that Strength.
    What about star performers. Some will be
    able to coach and lead others and some won’t.
    Some just don’t know how to transfer their
    energy and ability to others. Others will
    have this gift. A good owner will strive to
    recognize this ability and consult with that
    person to energize others or the sales team.
    Another area where coaches fail is giving the
    team/individuals Credit for a Fine achievment.
    One of the books I read every year until they
    stopped printing it was ‘the 100 best companies to work for’. each of these firms
    made sure that their people had what they needed to achieve success because they realized that if their people didn’t they could not achieve.
    On my Degree that I got many moons ago was
    this saying ‘You have now been given a bag of
    tools and some building blocks – the rest is
    up to You’.
    Have you as an owner or coach given your people this or have you given them handcuffs!

  2. says

    Learn to Love Projects

    Project work is a fact of life for most of us. Within our Managing with Aloha coaching curriculum, we have a course with which we coach managers to look at project work in a way they may not have considered it before. We turn need-to-be-done-anyway pr…

  3. Roger Potter says

    How can managers be effecitive coaches – an
    Just after I posted my previous blog I remembered something else.
    About 12 years ago I used to listen to a radio program called ‘talknet’ with host Bruce Williams – business owner/millionare/
    former mayor.
    On this one particular nite there was this one particular caller – young guy who owned a
    parts business. For the first 2 to 3 minutes
    he wasn’t making sense so Bruce said ‘halt’
    let’s start from the beginning. This guy was
    36 and owned his own parts business – fine
    said Bruce – ‘what’s the problem’. Well come
    to find out this guy had as the parts manager
    a 28 year woman and as the GM a 42 year old
    guy and the ‘problem’ was that this manager and her people and the gm were getting all the ‘attention’ and were always called on,
    leaving the owner ‘feeling angry because he
    was not the ‘Central’ character.
    Well Bruce told him that the easiest way to
    cure this problem was to fire everybody and
    run the business himself. “What shot back this guy I can’t run this business by myself”
    ‘oh sure you can replied Bruce’ then you will
    get all the attention and all the glory’.
    After the guy had calmed down Bruce told him
    that the jobs of a business owner is to hire
    people better than you are and let them run
    the business and for you the owner to find
    other areas that the company can produce a revenue from.
    Why are Team Players bad for the success of a
    business But work for Donald Trump.
    I am a fan of ‘the apprentice’ this show has
    been critized by a lot of people.
    First off Trump and co. go thru a million people with every casting call And they have
    the ability to select ONLY the Best of the Best.
    Second all the the 18 finalists Are very successful, they know who they are, they all
    have egos, they all have drive, determination, passion, they all WANT to succeed.
    In the boardroom they take on each other –
    some people think this is Horrid but this is
    life!!!!! Why do you think Trump is Successful and a Billionaire.
    What if all managers coached like this, what
    if all managers took the handcuffs off their
    people and allowed their people to function.
    I can remember a man had this vision, people
    thought he was crazy. He wanted to build an
    amousement park based on a mouse that he had
    drawn – what if a coach didn’t have any vision – we wouldn’t have Disneyland today!!!
    Coaches – Your people are the Greatest Asset
    your company will have – If you allow them you will have a great company.