‘Leadership Kauai’ leads, inspires in many ways

I think that we all can pretty much agree that any organization is as good as its membership and that the membership counts on the integrity, strategy, humanity, intelligence, trustworthiness and compassion of its leadership. While a person may be born with the intelligence and willingness to lead, there are many other skills that are also important to deserve the trust, love and respect of one’s followers.

Lucky we live on Kauai, because “in 2003, Leadership Kauai was founded by a group of volunteers from major community sectors who acknowledged the importance of good leadership, and stepped forward and committed to identify, nurture and empower the individuals who will lead us into the future. Leadership Kauai is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, modeled on successful leadership programs nationwide, and customized for Kauai’s unique culture and needs.

Their vision is “Educating and Inspiring Kauai’s Future Leaders.”

Their mission and goal is, “To ensure a source of qualified and committed leaders on Kauai through effective leadership programs.” They engage a cross section of individuals, and develop their leadership skills to serve our community collaboratively … to ensure that Kauai has a source of qualified and culturally sensitive leaders, cognizant of Kauai’s energy, food, waste, and water challenges, and empowered to guide our community through socio-economic challenges, and to contribute to our rich island heritage and sustainability.”

The word “collaborate” means to work jointly on an activity, usually to produce or create something. A good leader has to look beyond just how he or she feels about something, and discover how others in the group feel about it, and what their strengths are. Sometimes, members of one organization collaborate with other organizations. A few months ago, I wrote an article about how the Kauai Police Department, YWCA, and office of the Prosecuting Attorney work together to help children who are victims of abuse. That’s collaboration.

“Each year 20-25 qualified Kauai individuals who are already providing leadership in the community join to further develop their leadership skills. They learn to work together to resolve important community issues. Upon graduation participants are challenged to use the skills and knowledge they gain for the long-term benefit of the community. The adult program has graduated 173 leaders as of June 2014.

There is also a youth program called “Pi’ina Hoku” (Stars that rise). It has graduated 114 youth leaders since its first class in 2007. Currently, the members are all from Kapaa High School, but it is launching a multi-year project with a goal to expand its youth leadership programs to all high schools islandwide.

The program develops skills in communication, public speaking, active listening, group processing, team building and self-evaluation.” (the above quoted information came from www.leadershipkauai.org)

People can be brilliant and intuitive, but if they can’t express themselves so that others can understand them, their ideas won’t go very far. Skills include organizing what you want to say in meaningful concepts and an order that helps people understand.

Active listening may be one of the most important skills that a leader can have. It means that she is quiet and truly focusing while others speak. She is not thinking about what she will say next. It means that she is truly listening even with empathy to what the person is saying. She can ask questions when she doesn’t understand something, nod when she agrees, but active listening is just that: Listening. After we have actively listened, we should be able to repeat back what the person said to us. How could a leader truly lead if she didn’t listen to her peeps!

This ability leads into the next skill of group processing. A good leader has to rein back the person that wants to hog all the talking time, as well as encourage the ones who appear too shy to speak up to speak.

Team building takes time:

w Developing trust is experienced over time, and is essential to the success of a good team.

w The team needs to know the skills of every person in the team, and use them most effectively. Ideally knowledge could be shared so that everyone boots up a little higher. An individual’s unique capabilities should be encouraged by others in the team.

w Team members need to be able to communicate effectively with each other, and have a system for reducing conflicts when they arise. Active listening is a big part of this.

w Solving problems as they arise without blaming others, but working for the greatest good for all is key.

w Learning how to stay focused and motivated when the going gets a little rough is important.

w And perhaps the most important: Everyone recognizes the worth of everyone else on the team, and respects them.

Self-evaluation is not about putting yourself down for not doing a good enough job, or about shouting our praises loudly so that everyone can hear them. It is about looking at our goals, and determining if in a given situation we met them. If so, we recognize that what we did could be done again in a similar situation. If not, we need to think about what specifically didn’t work, and how we can do it better. We may ask for feedback from others, which is why some people hand out surveys after a talk.

Every time an author writes, they self-evaluate. When they reread their writing, they cut out parts, and add new ones. Just adding one word can sometimes make things much clearer. How many times have you heard your teachers say, when they give you a test, “Check your work.” That is self-evaluation. When you are serving in a public venue, you can notice if it seems that people are nodding off when you talk, or don’t seem to understand the project you’ve given them to do. Pause, Ask for questions. Don’t just barrel on through it to get the job done. If you’ve run out of your allotted time, you’ll know not to try to present so much next time. Each mistake is a jewel, perfectly designed for you, by you, to teach you something.

These are just tastes of what you would have opportunities to practice in Leadership Kauai, They use techniques proven to be effective nationwide. They also offer a Speaker Series “offered to everyone, providing an opportunity to hear excellent presentations in a pleasant collegial atmosphere while building leadership skills to address our island needs collectively.”

For more information call (808) 246-8727 or email info@leadershipkauai.org.

To close, I’d like to quote from their flier: “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” Jack Welch


Hale `Opio Kaua’i convened a support group of adults in our Kauai community to “step into the corner” for our teens, to answer questions and give support to youth and their families on a wide variety of issues. Please email your questions or concerns facing our youth and families today to Annaleah Atkinson at aatkinson@haleopio.org


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