Show ALOHA at work
ALOHA in the Hawaiian language means affection, peace, compassion and mercy. In Hawaii someone can be said to have or show ALOHA in the way they treat others
In the movie `The Fundamentals of Caring` with Paul Rudd and Craig Roberts, based on the praised novel `The Revised Fundamentals of Caring` by Jonathan Evison, the caretakers-to-be are trained in the concept of ALOHA. In this movie ALOHA stands for ask, listen, observe, help, ask again.
Shouldn`t we as leaders show ALOHA in the way we treat others?
Have conversations with direct reports in peace and show compassion and mercy?
Many questions I get about leadership relate to the fine line between showing compassion and taking over and owning the problem.
The stories I hear are the same: the problem is one of the direct reports, who is a complainer, takes up a lot of time, doesn`t want to solve any issue. In the end, the leader has the monkey on the shoulder and the direct report walks away unsatisfied.
Why does this happen? Why are the stories all the same?
Two reasons stick out and they both have to do with us, the leaders.
- We believe we do not have time for these discussions. Our diaries are fully blocked with 30 minute-meetings and we feel the urge to tick of as many boxes as we can during the day. The ticking off boxes has become our primary target.
- We do not love ourselves enough; we do not care for ourselves, as we should do.
We end up in a vicious circle: we are under time-pressure, focussed on diminishing our to-do list day-in day-out. We actually believe we will save time by taking over the problems of others and solving it ourselves. Our shoulders are full of monkeys that do not belong there, left behind by direct reports and colleagues who do not know what to do with them.
What would change if you would decide that each monkey that enters your office, also leaves your office after each conversation?
If I ask this question, everyone smiles. Wouldn`t this be great?
You can make this happen if you make two deliberate choices: you are willing to invest time in the conversation and you care enough for yourself not to take the monkey!
Now ALOHA steps in: ask, listen, observe, help, ask again.
– You start by Asking one clear question.
– You Listen without judgement and do not interrupt. Let silence be silence.
– You Observe the emotions of the person talking and try to read between the lines.
– Then you take Time to Think, try to find the essence of the problem and check if this is the real problem.
– Then Listen and Observe. Most of the time by simply refocusing on the real problem, the person can come up with a solution.
– If not, Ask: How can I Help you? What do you need from me to move forward?
– Listen carefully again and Observe if this solution takes away the fear, anger or frustration.
– If so, show the person your trust in his or her ability to fix the problem and move on with the project.
– Ask the person to drop by or send you a short note to let you know how it worked out.
Nothing less, nothing more
It sounds simple and at the same time like a huge time-investment. But that is not true. You will feel relieved that the problem and the solution leave your room. You will see a confident person stepping out of your office. You have showed him/her the way as a leader. Nothing more, nothing less.
All you need to do from now is show ALOHA in the way you treat others, with compassion, respect and trust.
All your direct reports and colleagues are capable to do a good job.
You never need to do their job for them.