Ho‘ohanohano, the value of dignity and respect

Originally published for the print edition of Ke Ola Magazine: March/April 2015 Hawai‘i Island issue.
Previously in this series: Ha‘aha‘a, the value of humility.

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“Honor the dignity of others.

Conduct yourself with distinction, and cultivate respectfulness.”

Ah, Ho‘ohanohano! I’ve looked forward to showcasing this lesser known value in our series, for learning it is pivotal in self efficacy, believing in oneself. Foundational to Alaka‘i, the value of management and leadership, Ho‘ohanohano is crucial to anyone who aspires to manage and lead.

As a pragmatic example, Ho‘ohanohano is the guiding value of every workshop I do which has been scheduled as training for supervisors and new managers. We dig into the specific scenarios they’ll encounter early in their areas of responsibility, and Ho‘ohanohano shapes our analysis with appraisal questions; “How will your decision affect that employee’s desire to continue performing well? Were you as respectful as you could have been? Will his sense of dignity be left intact? How about his self-confidence: Will he be on sure footing going forward?”

Hanohano is dignity. To Ho‘o-hanohano is to ensure it — to make dignity happen, for yourself and for others.

Dignity and respect should not be elusive concepts in any workplace, and every manager can make them tangible and performance-measurable at any get-go. You can start the habit of talking about them as best-case outcomes in task management, in supervisory scenarios, and in decision making so that Ho‘ohanohano “gets real” in a manager’s toolkit. To practice Ho‘ohanohano is to deliver what others perceive as the Aloha Spirit and signature of working with Aloha. It’s certainly a nice-guy strategy, yet it’s one with concrete deliverables.

When managers work on Ho‘ohanohano we elevate the entire profession of management, for we work on grooming distinctive behaviors in dignity and respect as true north in our moral compass. We concentrate on setting a good example, and on gaining our credibility through thoughtfully executed task management and career experiences. Within Ho‘ohanohano, we craft favorable reputations. And what is reputation to a manager or leader? Ticketing to future influence and effectiveness. Success seen as ethical behavior, achieved with dignity and respect, is exceptional leverage.

Yet the beauty of Ho‘ohanohano is that it’s not seen as selfishness or a calculated and manipulative behavior. Far as everyone else can tell, we are learning to be more thoughtful, and we are. As we constantly keep dignity in mind, the demonstration of this value becomes our demeanor. We’ve improved our brand with the human touch.

As we focus on Ho‘ohanohano we gain the beneficial awareness of our visibility: Managing and leading are highly visible pursuits, yet it can be difficult to step outside current efforts, and see ourselves and our actions the way others will, or as we’re hoping for. As former Ritz-Carlton President Horst Schulze noted, explaining why he “had to go out and create Capella Hotels,” opting out of an easier path to retirement, “I knew I should have been better… The moment you step out of where you were, at that moment you know what you did wrong. It’s hard to see that when you are in it. Knowing what I knew, and having to sit there for the rest of my life knowing it would’ve made me crazy.”

The good news, is that we need not retire to have a similar aha moment. To diligently, purposely focus on learning Ho‘ohanohano gives you a step up in self-development and a fortuitous edge in managing. You create good habits, and your edge is an attractiveness: When you cultivate the better behaviors of Ho‘ohanohano demeanor, you wear a magnetic personality people seek to surround themselves with. You are selected to lead and chosen as mentor for all the right reasons. Your practice of ethics, dignity, and respect is seen as personal and professional value conviction.

Much as I’d love to have you there, you need not sign up for our new supervisors’ workshop. Immerse yourself in this value by keeping it in your attentions with the guidance Ho‘ohanohano can give you. Here’s an easy self-coaching practice to make habit of: Start a What Would I Have Done? notebook, wherein you reflect on how you would’ve better handled situations that go awry, whether one of your faux pas, or a misstep done by another manager. Intensifying notice of them helps you empathize, and better see those things which seem so visible to others.

Common thread to our series on Hawaiian values has been this: Values drive desired behaviors. If you want to work on a value that resonates as example extraordinaire of that assertion, choose Ho‘ohanohano. Make it specific to your own situation and choose precise personalized behaviors you immediately commit to as affirmations of who you are, and who you want to be as an Alaka‘i Manager. In choosing Ho‘ohanohano, you can allow yourself to be a fresh-scrubbed beginner. No manager starts off excellent, they behave with nobility to get there.

Until next time ~ Rosa Say

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For more on Ho‘ohanohano, I invite you to visit my Ho‘ohanohano index archived on www.ManagingWithAloha.com

Next in this series: Alaka‘i, the value of leadership.
The inaugural column for this series may be read here: Why Values? And Why “Manage with Aloha?”