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?
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