what is ea?


The Hawaiian word “ea” has many meanings.  Depending on the context, in English it can mean life, breath, air, to rise, go up, rule, sovereignty, and independence to name a few. We may be most familiar with its use in our State motto, “Ua mau ke ea o ka ‘āina i ka pono”.

Seeing "ea" inside of “leader” for the first time was a call to deepen my understanding of ea and how it relates to leadership.

So what is ea?  Right now for me ea speaks to a rise of a Hawaiian way of leading in today's global context.  A kind of leadership that looks to Hawaiʻi nei as a valued source and gift to the world.

- Cheryl Kaʻuhane Lupenui


the model

The leader project model looks at leadership as part of an ecosystem and reflects a continuous process. Viewing the model in a clockwise direction provides a Hawaiian worldview, whereas a counter clockwise approach offers a Western perspective. In this way, leaders can draw on the strengths of both Western and Hawaiian cultures in their work. Some of the guiding questions for leadership development now become:

    • Who are We?
    • What is Our Place?
    • What is My Responsibility?

The model and its design principles identify four elements that interconnect for each project: 

  1. Place provides a foundation for the group to lead from beyond position.
  2. Culture defines the actions and behaviors the group will model.
  3. Community determines what leaders need to be responsible for.
  4. Leadership uniquely emerges from the group’s relationship and desires to sustain the effort.

A leader project-in-residence might include integrating any of the following:

    • Place-based Business and Program Development
    • Group Process Design
    • Strategic Learning and Mapping
    • Custom Leadership Design and Programming