Originally published for the print edition of Ke Ola Magazine, November/December 2018 Hawai‘i Island issue.
Links are additions made expressly for the readers of this site and ManagingWithAloha.com.
Previously in this series: Alaka‘i: To Lead well, Guide well (Fifteenth in Series 2)
Mālama ka po‘e
“To Mālama, is to take care of.
A manager is a steward of assets and caretaker of people.”
Sixteenth in Series Two on Managing with Aloha | By Rosa Say
Let’s dig into the Mālama element of Alaka‘i leadership we briefly mentioned last issue: “Legendary Hawaiian leadership was marked by koa, the attribute of strength and courage. What we find in much larger measure however, is mālama ka po‘e, as the determination to care for one’s people, and ho‘omālamalama, to ‘cause light, brighten, illuminate, enlighten, inform, [and] civilize,’ (Pukui Elbert’s Hawaiian Dictionary) so ‘one’s people’ could elevate themselves along with the Ali‘i as their leaders.”—Alaka‘i: To Lead well, Guide well.
A determination to care for one’s people and to bring light into their lives, is an extremely worthwhile commitment. It’s also remarkably different from the cold-hearted, solely profit-driven reputation business can have today, and the environment in which we find ourselves fighting to institute the more dignified tenets of an ‘Ohana in Business.
A determination to care for one’s people is the response the Managing With Aloha philosophy asks all leaders and managers to make as their kuleana (responsibility); “Managing others is a profound responsibility. In Aloha we are held accountable, and working true to our values, we ourselves become better.”
We often speak of the ‘oxygen mask theory’ when we talk about the value of Mālama in regard to self-care, that instruction to ensure your good health first—your very survival, if need be—so you will be fit and able when called upon to assist in the care of others. In contrast, mālama ka po’e removes the ‘in case of an emergency’ element from the scenario, and replaces it with a consistent allegiance and devotion—“the determination to care for one’s people.”
Determination. To care for others—your people—as self-care for you as a manager.
Devotion. Every day. In every workplace endeavor. In every business transaction, so that as managers and leaders, “we ourselves become better” and breathe in our own oxygen of Aloha.
Stories abound in which Mālama shines through its expressions of care, empathy and compassion. It’s more than tapping into touchy-feely emotional responses however, for Mālama beams with ho‘omālamalama in ‘tough love’ as well, as long as the intent and the actions of tough love practices are to ‘enlighten’ the person they are directed to, helping them to be stronger and healthier in the process.
Mālama is both soft and firm. A very strong case can be made for the emotional intelligences of caring, empathy and compassion, for they are fuel to human energies. Think of them as “gentler care.” Think of “tough love” as consistency in high expectations. Whether in performance management or progressive discipline, when Alaka‘i managers combine gentler care with tough love effectively, they infuse workplaces with the knowledge and confidence that human energy is the most valuable asset we have in business, bar none. They do so consistently.
We need that confidence. It says that when human energy is healthy, abundant, and well-directed in work performance and delivery it will create every other asset our business may need, whether financial, in tangible resource, or in service provision.
Let’s recall our management versus leadership definitions in regard to energy: To manage well, is to effectively channel your existing energies. To lead well, is to inspire and strategically create the additional energy which is necessary, and may not yet exist.
The managers job, is to coach their people toward performance where their energies become self-perpetuated and self-sustaining—where their motivation is an inside job, and comes from within them as fresh and nourishing as an artesian spring. The inherent qualities of mindfulness and good character are the deliverables which result when we Mālama those we work with.
Join me, and others who work within the Managing with Aloha movement, by committing to Mālama ka po‘e: Be fiercely determined to care for your people as the way you care for your business. Ho‘omālamalama to boost their best disposition and their energies, and you will be boosting the health of your business.
Best of all, you will Mālama pono, devote energy to your own self care as well. You will feel good about how you manage others—isn’t that what all managers want to feel?
Next issue: We revisit Mahalo, the Hawaiian value of thankfulness, appreciation and gratitude.
Rosa Say is a workplace culture coach, a zealous advocate of the Alaka‘i Manager, and the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawai‘i’s Universal Values to the Art of Business. Contact Rosa at www.RosaSay.com, and discover more about the Managing with Aloha philosophy at www.ManagingWithAloha.com.
Postscript: Ke Ola is published 6 times a year, and distributed in print on Hawai‘i Island and by subscription. I have therefore made a practice of archiving the articles on RosaSay.com for those within our Ho‘ohana Community who may want to read them.
You can access all 20 articles I had written for Series 1 via this index. The inaugural column for Series 1 may be read here: Why Values? And Why “Manage with Aloha?” and here for Series 2: Aloha Intentions.