Thursday, May 5, 2011


Those of us who've lived and worked in Hawaii know that Aloha is more than a marketing tool, more than the airport lei greeting, and more than the simple Island versions of hello and goodbye....  much more!  The Spirit of Aloha is a palatable - and powerful - real force on the Islands which promotes a way of life, a way of extending authentic respect and concern for others; its beauty evident beyond the spoken word and into the innumerable moments initiated and responded to every day with family, friends, clients, and workplace colleagues.

Rosa Say, spanning a hospitality career from the lunch counter of F.W. Woolworth's at age 15, to the Director of Services at one of Hawaii's top luxury resorts, discovered eighteen traditional Hawaiian values along her journey that proved critical for success as both service provider and organizational leader.  Aloha (unconditional love), ho'okipa (complete giving), kuleana (accepting responsibility), and alaka'i (leadership initiative) are but a few of the guiding values ancient Hawaiian wisdom provides for those dedicated to both human resource and business success.

Early on I was taught that good managers manage good processes... and guess what I found?  The Aloha spirit does not sit streamlined and variation-free within your bulletproof processes; it swims around within your people, surfing the high and low tides of their disposition each day they report to work... Yes, good managers do work with good processes, however, the great managers are the ones who concentrate on how they manage people.

The purest definition for Aloha itself is unconditional love.  Love can be an uncomfortable word for many people, for we associate it with sensitivity, raw emotion, and other touchy-feely concepts that are not easily discussed openly or with much frequency - certainly not with employees we manage!  Ironically, love is probably the most universal of all values... a word of complete unselfishness and beauty...  Your own belief that the people you manage are innately good is the single most important prerequisite to your own success as their manager.  

You needn't say the words outright that you love them, but they must feel that you do.
Mokulua Islands, Lanikai, Oahu

- From Managing with Aloha: Bringing Hawaii's Universal Values to the Art of Business, by Rosa Say  (Ho'ohana Publishing, 2006)