Community, and the Responsibility of Leadership

My first title for this was, My Responsibility for Leadership and the Mālama of the Ho‘ohana Community but it was too long. However it is what I want to talk about.

I just read a conversation on the Never Work Alone Google Group with much interest and self-reflection. In short, an honest and forthright member is asking if the group should be declared dead. The initial energy that had accompanied the group’s founding, has dwindled from whitewater rapids to the trickle in a dry streambed which results from an occasional cloudburst. Others in the group are weighing in with their thoughts.

I couldn’t help but compare what is happening there, and in another online group community I am involved with (the founding leader has just given the rest of us notice that he’ll be stepping away soon), with our own Ho‘ohana Community, giving myself a good reality check on our overall health as a vibrant community. Ironically appropriate in these last two days of having Mālama, the value most widely translated to mean “to take care of” as our value of the month.

People will say there is no coincidence, and you need to pay attention when forces seem to align themselves, and I have so often found this to be true. This morning, while on my morning run, when thoughts so often come to clarity for me, I was thinking about momentum and how we ho‘omau in organizations, more in regard to the ho‘omau definition of continuity deeper than pure persistence, and how we cause the good in our lives to last. I have two clients in particular who are absolutely on fire with their Managing with Aloha learning and internal management campaigns, and I near-obsessively think about how I can help them keep their momentum going. Both have chosen KÅ«lia i ka nu‘u as the overall theme of their strategic initiatives.

In one, we have gotten feedback that “we haven’t had this much involvement, energy, and hope for our future with this company in the last decade.”

In the other, that “it is amazing how our team now feels we can tackle just about any problem our labor challenges and this crazy market throws at us.”

Sounds good right? Well, I know my job is not over yet.

They are both off and running, however we (we as in Say Leadership Coaching) are still involved, and I am constantly thinking about their momentum and forward thrust (all part of KÅ«lia i ka nu‘u) in tandem with thinking about Ho‘omau and discernment: We talk about our Stop Doing Lists just as much as we talk about our Value Alignment Lists, which are those things which we either must start or maintain by ratcheting up our performance quality in them. And we talk about Mālama, and how we need to care for everyone in the process of the change we introduce and then seek to inculcate into their organizational culture.

[Sidebar: Yes, it is no coincidence that these values have been the ones we are studying in the MWA Jumpstart program and here with our Talking Story Ho‘ohana too” KÅ«lia i ka nu‘u, Ho‘omau, and Mālama.]

I feel for the founders of Never Work Alone, and frankly, as they are all members of our Ho‘ohana Community, I am very proud of them for the efforts they put into the project, and for the character they are now demonstrating with their own responses in the conversation there.

The fact of the matter remains this: In business, in work, and in life, we are constantly trying to balance an abundance mentality, thinking and hoping we can have it all, with our roles and responsibilities, our hunger for learning, and the basic sanity of our days. That’s where priorities and focus come in.

I believe an abundance mentality is a very good thing, and that tripping up with projects you start is just part of the learning process. It IS about the journey versus the destination, for once you arrive you start planning the next trip. If you’re smart, you plan the next one before you arrive at the first one so you keep your own internal fires burning and the embers never cool.

When people fall out of the community fold I find I am very understanding about it, because I look at it from the lens of my own busy life. It is very easy for me to empathize with them. Second, I trust they’ll be back if I give them the assurance I’ll still be here for them. Third, I take my own responsibility for it, and for all of it.

Now please understand that I have a very healthy and constant state of great self-esteem, so I don’t beat myself up for it either. When there is disinterest in the Ho‘ohana Community I’ll bounce back and forth between having three thoughts (or all of them at once);

  • It’s okay, for I honestly cannot devote that much attentions to all of this myself right now either. We’ll enjoy our break together.
  • What did you expect girl? You haven’t been all that inspiring lately. Focus!
  • Optimist that I am, I’m sure that bigger and better things are happening for them because they are Managing with Aloha in their work and their lives, and too involved in it to tell us about it. Ho‘ohana is happening!

My own takeaway with all of this in regard to the Ho‘ohana Community is that leadership matters AND management matters — big time. It’s a core belief for me; it’s most of what I write about in some form or the other. When a membership believes in you they give you a lot of breaks, and they are so willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. There is a lot of kindness and understanding in that Never Work Alone Google Group discussion.

However the vast majority of my work is about teams and project management within a company, and to a smaller extent in communities both offline and online, and I see this time and time again: No matter how active a team or community may be, they need leadership, and they need good management. Continuity depends on it; you can’t just hope and trust in the sporadic temporary energies of current members who have time to keep communities, initiatives, and businesses alive. That is, unless those members have their eye on eventually taking over. Mutiny happens all the time; it’s just not a word we use much anymore. Members want leadership in communities just as employees in companies want their managers to stop shying away from being the boss, and own that role with distinction (more on this is on page 8 of MWA: See The role of the manager). When leadership and management commitment falters, membership does too.

And both leaders and managers, for as you know I see those roles very differently, must focus on accepting their responsibility to continually add value to the lives of the people they are connecting.

So turning back to the Ho‘ohana Community, that responsibility falls back on me. Just wanted you all to know that I realize that, and you have my commitment. This is not something I am willing to let die. You have my Ho‘ohana because you have become such a huge part of it. Mahalo for the occasional lapse in fevered activity you so kindly allow me to have, and know that during those times I nānā i ke kumu (MWA Chapter 17): I go back to my source and find my personal truth, so I can emerge refreshed and renewed again.

On that note, time for me to finish up my draft on our Ho‘ohana essay for May. May will also include our next Learning Forum, and other than this short announcement on the Community E-Bulletin Board, I’m late giving our community bloggers more info about it.

I hope you’ll click back in on Monday. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Related post: Who is the Ho‘ohana Community?
For more on Responsibility, read up on Kuleana in MWA, or this Talking Story index.


  1. says

    Rosa, interesting developments indeed. The road goes ever on. For those who want to find the way, there are friends along the way. Some stay for awhile, some stay longer, but all add something to the travelers on the road and hence the road is as interesting as it is.

  2. says

    Steve, I am honored that you continue to travel on my road, both here and on the blog Synergy. Your character and your heart continue to add so very much to our Ho‘ohana Community, mahalo.