By Diane Ako
As a well-respected executive at some of Hawai‘i’s top companies, Robbie Alm has had plenty of opportunity to observe and document the best practices of great leaders. From the story of the “Live Aloha” program—which he helped launch—to instructive anecdotes of humility and integrity in business, he now shares what he has learned in a new book, The Faith of Leadership: Insights from Hawai‘i’s Leaders released by Watermark Publishing.
Currently president of the Collaborative Leaders Network, a problem-solving initiative of The Omidyar Group, Alm offers a thoughtful—and useful—study of just what makes an effective leader. Engaging and straightforward, The Faith of Leadership is a distillation of Alm’s eight keys to great leadership: listening, humility, working with resistance to change, remembering whose change we are talking about, walking the talk and integrity, making certain we always hear independent voices, understanding how others see the world and, finally, the faith that underlies leadership.
Alm views himself as both a student and practitioner of leadership. During more than three decades spent with the Hawai‘i State Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, First Hawaiian Bank and the Hawaiian Electric Company, he has come to see that leadership boils down to three basic fundamentals: “First, work as hard or harder than anyone else. Second, live right in your relationships with others. And finally, remember that for all our planning and working and living right, some of it seems to come down to pure luck.”
Real-life lessons and key examples from local companies and individuals provide a simple foundation for Alm’s discussion of the qualities of excellent leadership. “With Robbie, it’s not about understanding systems or complicated layers of this or that,” observes PBS Hawai‘i’s Leslie Wilcox. “It’s just, ‘What’s the right thing to do here, and how do we do it?’”
Alm puts it another way. “This is not a cookbook on leadership,” he says. “There really is no such thing.” Rather, The Faith of Leadership offers a series of guideposts for mapping a life path to becoming a good leader. Excellence in leadership, Alm believes, is less about wealth and power and more about positivity and serving as a good model.
The faith of leadership lies in setting a course that will accomplish what is right—and accepting the challenge of working on a problem that may not be solved in the near future. “I’ve always found it important to believe that while I may not be there to see it, things I do will ultimately make a difference,” he says.
Robbie Alm is a University of Hawai‘i and University of Iowa College of Law graduate with degrees in political science and administrative law. Following a ten-year stint at the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Alm ran the Financial Management Group of First Hawaiian Bank and worked in senior management at the Hawaiian Electric Company from 2001 to 2013, finally as the utility’s Executive Vice President.
A book signing with Alm will be held on Saturday, February 28 at Barnes & Noble, Ala Moana, from 1 PM to 2 PM. A portion of the day’s sales will benefit PBS Hawai‘i.
The Faith of Leadership: Insights from Hawai‘i’s Leaders (ISBN 978-1-935690-62-7), priced at $15.95, is available at bookstores, other retail outlets and online booksellers, and can be ordered direct from the publisher at www.bookshawaii.net. Contact Watermark Publishing, 1000 Bishop St., Suite 806, Honolulu, HI 96813; (808) 587-7766; toll-free (866) 900-BOOK; fax (808) 521-3461; email@example.com.