Work and love don’t often go together, but in his book “Love Works” Joel Manby makes the point that love has everything to do with leading effectively at work. Manby is the CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment (HFE) which owns and operates theme parks across the U.S. and was recently featured in Undercover Boss.
His book talks about seven timeless principles of leading with love – not love the emotion, but love the verb. The epiphany for me during the discussion with him was the idea that we make “acting with love” a leadership habit, regardless of whether we feel love in the moment. This discipline of acting with love, despite the pressures and stresses of the job, is what Manby shares in his book through stories of personal success and failure.
Most people would think leading with love is too soft for business. When I talked with Manby, he shared how much tougher it is to lead with love, and yet how it calls forth a better leader inside each of us. He’s worked in organizations where financial performance is all that matters. Yet his experience shows that financial results are better when we unleash loyalty, engagement, passion, and creativity. According to him, the culture at HFE helps create leaders who create enthusiasm with employees, who in turn create great guest experiences at the HFE theme parks. “Culture is what you pay attention to” says Manby, “and we reward people on Do goals as well as Be goals”.
Here are the seven principles and one important leadership tool that each of us can apply immediately to become more effective leaders:
Seven Principles and Practices to Lead with Love
1) Patient – Being patient is about having self-control in difficult situations. Praise (legitimately outstanding work) in public, admonish in private. Practice a three to one ratio of praise to criticism.
2) Kind – This is about encouraging people when they do something right. Spend 20 minutes at the start of the day writing a note to others about what behavior you observed in them that you appreciated. It gets you energized too!
3) Trusting – Being trusting is about placing confidence in someone. Manby suggests using a RACI tool (deciding who needs to be Responsible, who needs to Approve, who needs to be Consulted, and who needs to be Informed) in any decision or action to be taken. This makes it easier for all of us to trust each other and the process.
4) Unselfish – This is about thinking of ourselves less. There is a wonderful quote by Margaret Thatcher in the book: “Being in power is like being a lady. If you have to remind people that you are, you aren’t”. A practice in unselfishness is that when someone has a need and we can solve the need, to do it. We often get caught up in not helping one person because we worry we won’t be able to help everyone else. Manby says “Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.”
5) Truthful – This is about seeing and telling the truth at a corporate or individual level. “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality” according to Max Depree. The practice is in our own willingness to hear the truth, and also in our courage to speak the truth and hold ourselves and others accountable.
6) Forgiving – This is about releasing the grip of the grudge. The practice is to not let a week pass and hold a grudge. Manby’s advice “You have to forgive them or have a truthful conversation with them. If I feel something in my gut for someone and I’m angry at them, I have to sit down and tell them what’s bothering me.”
7) Dedicated – This is about being dedicated to the practice of love, of our values, despite the emotions we feel at any given time. It is about coming back to the practice every time we fall. It is about setting “Be” goals as well as “Do” goals.
To buy the book or read the reviews go to “Love Works“.
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