By CARLOS GALLEGO
AAP staff writer
Brooklyn Center, Minn. (Aug.18, 2012) — Accomplished speaker and author on leadership, J.D. Hokoyama, in his Keynote address at the Laotian American National Alliance Conference Aug. 18, opened his presentation by referring to Chinese American Tony-award winning Playwright David Henry Hwang who so much of his work touched on assimilating and finding balance between two cultures.
Holoyama said that just two generations ago assimilation meant giving up your culture. Today, he said, it is viewed as a balance of cultures.
“In order to be a leader you have to be confident with who you are and OK with who others are . . . you have to be proud of your own culture,” said Hokoyama, emphasizing the important qualities of becoming an effective leader in the United States.
Hokoyama provided the audience valuable tips on what are essential skills to be an effective leader: Integrity, Trust, Passion & Perseverance, Courage, Diversity, Risk-Taking, Flexibility and Vision. In highlighting integrity, she spoke to the importance of being able to do the right thing even if there are pressures trying to get you to sway.
As to risk-taking, he reminded the audience that true leaders are willing to take chances, although they do not intend to fail, they are not afraid to fail, if necessary. According to Hokoyama, if people are unwilling to take risks then things will continue to same and nothing new will occur.
Hokoyama mentioned that in today’s society other vital attributes include embracing diversity as a core value and having the ability to make decisions when you only have partial information. Of vision, he reminded the audience of the importance of being able to see the ‘Big Picture’, being able things in breadth and depth.
This means being able to engage in out of the box thinking and knowing how to find ways to put together parts that are not normally seen as fitting together, he said. This creates new ways of doing things and helps to grow high performing partnerships, teams and coalitions. “Working alone is no longer good enough, he added.
Hokoyama listed other essential skills needed to be an effective leader:
• Listening (Active listening)
• Ability to motivate people
• Managing people
• Affirming values
• Making commitments (Your word is very important)
• Willing to work in a diverse environment
Hokoyama emphasized that true leaders must be able to work with people of exceptional ability and not be intimidated; leaders must have the ability to work with individuals more highly skilled than themselves without feeling threatened.
“Leadership is not about surrounding yourself with ‘yes men’, you need to be willing to hear what you don’t want to hear,” he said.
He continued on this theme articulating that the ability to given and receive feedback is essential. It is important to tell others what went well and what did not as this allows the ability to make changes when necessary. He concluded by noting that the ability to laugh and laugh at yourself is a valuable skill. “Life is too short, laughing and having a good sense of humor is important.”
J.D. Hokoyama is one of the nation’s foremost leadership training and diversity and inclusion trainers and authors. He founded and directed Leadership Education for Asian Americans (LEAP) for 30 years.
The goal of the organization was to enable the Asian and Pacific Islander American community to participate fully and equally in all aspect of decision-making whether it be at the local or national level. He also was the former associate national director of the Japanese American Citizens League.