Leadership Mints Series Sampler On Treating Others With Respect

Aloha! What if you began and ended your one-on-one meetings with that evocative greeting — a greeting that also serves as a productive farewell — even if you don’t live or work in Hawaii?

Aloha from Hawaii

Then you’d be saying much more than “hi and bye.” With your “Aloha” you’d be invoking “the breath of life” both at the beginning and and the ending of your meeting. Who doesn’t need a breath of fresh air to freshen the workday at the start and at the end? Aloha stems from “Alo,” meaning presence and “ha,” meaning breath. The website  To-Hawaii.com, published by Eleakai Publishing, LLC, also notes:

  • Aloha is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to every other person for collective existence.
  • Aloha means to hear what is not said, to see what cannot be seen and to know the unknowable.
  • Aloha means mutual regard and affection and extends warmth in caring with no obligation in return.

How can you best spread the Aloha sentiment of mutual regard and affection without actually saying the word ALOHA and yet conjure up images of flowing palm trees and colorful leis?

Simply ask your staff member to set the meeting agenda. Fight off the urge to dump your in-basket into the lap of your direct report with the following provocative Aloha greeting question of another kind:

“What is on your mind today?”

In his book The Coaching Habit, Michael Bungay Stanier says that key question reaffirms a trusting relationship and establishes a working environment of dignity and respect for both the staffer and the leader.

This agenda-setting question also quickly targets a pressing need and a more strategic problem solving discussion that leads to a more productive outcome.

But then the most effective leader confirms the decision-making process with the staffer BEFORE the meeting ends with the following Aloha farewell question of another kind?

“What was the most useful to you in our meeting?”

Those two bookend questions take your one-on-on meetings to the next level, and a establish a more strategic followup meeting well beyond the hi and bye opener and closer of most meetings.

The leadership lesson is clear: Breathe life into your meetings. Turn your how-are-ya’s into Alohas!

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