In my experience, the word love is rarely used at work. While we may love our work, we rarely think of love as an effective business strategy or management philosophy.
Perhaps it’s because we usually think of love as an emotion rather a behavior. When we look at love in action, however, love works—at work. And it can be a powerful tool to help us strengthen our teams and improve bottom line results.
My friend, Joel Manby, has just written a powerful book on this very topic. You may have seen him on the hit television show, Undercover Boss, along with some 18 million viewers who watched this particular episode.
Joel is the President and CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment, which owns and operates dozens of theme parks across the country such as Dollywood, Silver Dollar City, and Stone Mountain in Georgia. He and his colleagues practice servant-based leadership, based on the philosophy of leading with love.
After the show, Joel received an avalanche of mail from people people wanting to learn more. He said, “I never imagined how people from across the world would embrace our company and culture like they did. People were starving for a better a way to lead.”
That inspired Joel to write Love Works: Seven Timeless Principles for Effective Leaders (Zondervan), a new book that I read several weeks ago. I highly recommend it. It is must-reading for anyone in leadership.
Love Works is a practical how-to guide for anyone who wants to lead with love at work. Whether you lead a small business, a department, a large company, or a non-profit ministry, this book is for you.
The seven principles explored in Love Works come from one of the oldest and most respected authorities on human behavior: the Bible. In 1 Corinthians chapter 13, the apostle Paul writes,
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
We’ve all heard this passage read at weddings, but how many of us have ever thought of it as a business philsophy?
Joel elaborates on these seven principles:
- Be patient—demonstrate self-control in difficult situations.
- Be kind—show encouragement and enthusiasm.
- Be trusting—place confidence in those around you.
- Be unselfish—think of yourself less.
- Be truthful—define reality corporately and individually.
- Be forgiving—release the grip of the grudge.
- Be dedicated—stick to your values in all circumstances.
If you choose to lead with love, others around you may not initially understand what you’re doing. But Joel admonishes to do it anyway. This type of leadership is more important than the temporary approval of your coworkers.
Choosing to lead with love is the single most difficult decision a leader can make, but a wise leader dedicates him or herself to it because it is also the single best way to lead an organization.