Love Works | Notes & Review

Posted on July 22, 2012


Joel Manby. Love Works: Seven Timeless Principles for Effective Leaders. Zondervan, 2012. (195 pages)

1. A Hard Day’s Night

LEADING WITH LOVE. Inside I longed for a better way — a way to unite who I was as a business leader with who I was as a person. I wanted to care about the people I worked with and for. I wanted to work somewhere that rejected the false dichotomy between profit and people or profit and principles. I wanted, in short, to be the same person all the time: at work, with my family, at my church, and when I was alone. (21)

This book was born from the conviction that leading with love is the best way to run an organization. | Any organization. (22)

THE BOTTOM LINE. …profits are not an end in themselves. Profits are a product of doing the right thing — over and over agian. (22)

2. The Jedi Masters

Do or do not. There is no try. – Yoda

…Herschend family objectives: a specified growth in profit so it is ‘a great long-term investment,’ to be a ‘great place to work for great people,’ and to ‘lead with love.’ (28)

We understand that sometimes tension can exist between these objectives, but that is a tension that needs to be managed. It’s not okay to achieve profit growth and destroy our culture as a ‘great place to work for great people.’ It is also not okay to focus on being a ‘great place to work’ without achieving oru financial objectives. This is a tension to embrace, not eliminate. (29)

2.2 Love Is a Verb

MORE THAN A FEELING. Treating someone with love regardless of how you feel about that person is a very powerful principle. (31)

I’m referring to a set of behaviors that people use to build a healthy relationship with someone regardless of how they feel. (31)

LOVE THE VERB. Agape love is the foundation for the best and noblest relationships that humans are capable of. It is deliberate and unconditional love that is the result of choices and behaviors rather than feelings and emotions. | In that regard, agape love is about the values we embrace as a way of life, and it is a determination to behave in a certain way that stems from our regard for other human beings, regardless of how we may feel about them. For leaders, demonstrating agape love is about behavior, not emotions. (33)

3. Patient: Have Self-Control in Difficult Situations

You don’t have to make headlines to make a difference. – Truett Cathy

I determined never to publicly admonish people in a way that would diminish their dignity. (39)

As business leaders, we can never forget the necessity of admonishing. Leading with love is not an excuse to be “soft” on people. Yet at the same time, we must always admonish with patience and respect. Our goal isn’t simply performance; it’s to protect the dignity of the people on our team. (41)

3.2 Patient Praise

…for praise to be effective, it needs to be delivered by a leader who is patient enough to observe what his or her team has actually been doing and waits for the right moment to deliver that assessment. (42)

To be truly effective, praise must be legitimate and pointed. (4)

3.3 A Lesson from History

[From the movie: Gettysburg]

  • Admonish in private whenever possible.
  • Be stern but avoid malice.
  • Be specific.
  • Get people “back on the horse” with pointed praise.
  • Move on without a grudge.

Patient Chapter Summary

  • Patient: have self-control in difficult situations
    • Don’t be patient with poor performance. Be patient with how you respond to poor performance.
  • Praise patiently in public.
    • Be specific and exact.
    • Be legitimate — false praise kills credibility.
  • Admonish in private.
    • Private admonishment is effective and protects a person’s dignity.
    • Get to the point and be specific; re affirm the person’s value; get the person “back on the horse”; and don’t speak of the reason for admonishment again.
  • Praise more than you admonish — think in terms of a 3 to 1 ratio.

4. Kind: Show Encouragement and Enthusiasm

Anyone who consistently makes you feel bad is not helping you be better. – Sam Horn

…the enthusiasm of the guest experience can never rise any higher than the enthusiasm of your own employees. (60)

Kindness is about intentionally creating and maintaining the right environment in your organization so that frontline employees can deliver an enthusiastic guest experience. (60)

TAKE TIME TO ENCOURAGE. …spend part of every day actively encouraging behavior you want to reinforce! (66)

Kind Chapter Summary

  • Kind: show encouragement and enthusiasm.
  • The enthusiasm of the guest experience can never rise higher than the enthusiasm of your employees.
    • Kindness, encouragement, and enthusiasm start at the top.
    • When a leader is kind, it will influence frontline employees who interact directly with the customers.
  • Make their day better.
    • Every time you contact someone, you can make their day better or worse — so make it better.
    • Making a day “better” sometimes requires very little action or effort.
  • Write ’em up.
    • Break through the email clutter and use hand-written notes of thanks.
    • Begin each day reflecting on the previous day, thinking about what you want to reinforce. Consider writing supporting notes to spouses as well.
    • CEO = chief encouragement officer. All of us can be a “CEO” under those terms.

5. Trusting: Place Confidence in Someone

We’re never so vulnerable than when we trust someone — but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy. – Walter Anderson

When we interrupt or respond without taking account of what others have said, we send several messages — none of them are good:

  • My idea is greater than your idea, so I don’t have to listen.
  • Interrupting you is okay because your response isn’t that important.
  • I’m not listening to you because I’m already preparing my response.

The truth is this: interrupting is a sign of distrust. (73)

Would your employees or coworkers rate you as a good listener or a poor listener? Would they say you listen without interrupting? Would they say you hear them?

  1. Don’t say, “I understand how you feel, but…” Most people won’t feel that you understand, especially if you discount their thinking and immediately move in a different direction.
  2. Instead, summarize what you have heard. If you really trust them, they will agree with your summary and feel as if their idea has been given a fair hearing.
  3. If you go a different direction, articulate why. Always try to explain your logic when differing with some of your team. They may not agree, and that’s okay, but you’ll all know what everyone is thinking.

Poor listening is more than forgivable rudeness: it’s a breach of trust and not a quality of leading with love. (74)

If we want our organizations to display trust and respect, we need to make sure everyone is involved in the decisions that affect them. The best decisions are always made with, not for, and showing that kind of trust is at rue attribute of leading with love. (78)

5.3 A Tool for Trust

Deciding that people should be involved in decisions that affect them is the “easy” part — what is harder is making sure the right people are involve in decisions and then clearly communicating the decisions to everyone affected by them. | The best method I’ve seen to clarify this sometimes mundane process can be remembered by a catchy acronym: RACI.

Here’s how RACI works. Start by identifying who is responsible for the decision. …What comes next in the process are those who have to approve whatever decision is made. …before the decision becomes finale, it’s necessary to consult the people who will be directly affected by the decision. …Finally, the organization must find the best way to inform the rest of the team — people who may not be directly affected but should be kept “in the picture.” (79)

What’s amazing about trust is that it can be both effective and efficient. The total time required both to decide and implement is actually shorter when we involve the necessary team members. This is an unexpected benefit of trusting leadership. When people aren’t involved in the decisions that affect them, implementation can slow to a crawl and use more time and resources than a fully informed decision-making process. (82)

I have learned at least two key points…about trust-filled decision making:

  1. Let others make the decisions for which they are responsible.
  2. Avoid overruling decisions that have been made.

Trusting Chapter Summary

  • Trusting: place confidence in someone.
  • Listening carefully is a sign of trust. Interrupting people is a sign of distrust.
  • RACI is a trust tool to involve others in the decisions that affect them.
    • Use it to clarify who needs to be involved in a decision.
    • Although involving those affected by a decision may take more time than an autocratic decision, the total time through implementation will usually be shorter.
  • Don’t just define the decision making process — followit.
    • Let others make the decisions they are responsible for.
    • Avoid overriding a decision that has already been made unless it is absolutely necessary.

6. Unselfish: Think of Yourself Less

Being in power is like being a lady. If you have to remind people that you are, you aren’t. – Margaret Thatcher

You may ask what personal unselfishness has to do with leading. It’s simple. If we are unable to be selfless in our personal life, we are unlikely to be unselfish as a leader, and unselfishness is a key component of leading with love. (93)

Be unselfish with your time, talents, and treasure now, not someday. (95)

6.3 Autocratic vs. Socratic


  • Asking more questions to draw out and evaluate what other leaders are thinking. Great questions test the wisdom and logic of an idea better than any “expert” opinion can and also develop the person who has to answer the question.
  • Facilitating team discussions to help identify problems and suggest solutions. Good leaders can be active participants in this process, but they often speak last and absorb the various opinions and ideas around the room.
  • Making the best decision possible after getting the input of the brightest minds most affected by the decision. This process isn’t necessarily based on consensus — a good leader must still set the direction if there is disagreement — but nine times out of ten a better decision is made after using Socratic skills.
  • Summarizing the discussion and attempting to build and maintain team unity. If a decision is made that goes a different direction than some of the opinions in the room, a good leader explains why so everyone feels heard.

Socratic leadership attracts and keeps stronger talent than autocratic leadership does. (104)

DECIDE TO DECIDE LESS. As a leader’s seniority increases, that leader should make fewer decisions. (105)

Talented people — the kind any leader should want to be surrounded by — don’t like to be told what to do. (106)

Unselfish Chapter Summary

  • Unselfish: think of yourself less.
  • Be unselfish with your personal treasure.
    • Define a fixed percentage of your income to give away.
    • Ask someone like your tax accountant to hold you accountable.
    • Set a finish line so you don’t have lifestyle creep.
  • Be unselfish with your personal time and talent to make yourself, your organization, and the world better.
  • Help your organization be unselfish.
    • Give a fixed percentage of your organization’s profits to help those in your organization who are in a personal crisis.
    • Give your time and talent to develop internal leaders.
    • “Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.”
  • Be unselfish with your decision-making authority: a strong leader should aim to make as few decisions as possible.
  • Socratic, rather than autocratic, leading is more effective, because it leads to better decisions and attracts and keeps better talent.
  • Socratic leading requires:
    • asking more questions
    • facilitating a team discussion with talented people
    • making the best decision possible due to rich discussion
    • summarizing the decision and direction

7. Truthful: Define Reality Corporately and Individually

The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. – Max DePree

Rule # 1: Don’t Shoot the Messenger.

Rule # 2: Don’t Confuse Disagreement with Conflict. “Conflict develops when people take the disagreement personally.”

Rule # 3: Don’t assume People See It.

Rule # 4: Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace.

Most people don’t leave because of poor performance; they leave because they don’t feel valued. (118)

A healthy organization does the most good for the greatest number of people. (118)

Getting the corporate truth isn’t easy. using the robust discussion and decision-making processes noted above takes more time, discipline, and work. However, it engages people at their highest level and leads to the best decisions possible — both outcomes any leader should desire, and both are necessary when leading with love. (118)

7.2 Same as, More of, Less of

GETTING AT INDIVIDUAL TRUTH. I wrote out headings on three sections of my paper: “Same as,” “More of,” and “Less of.”

Leading with love means caring enough about an individual or a team to give and solicit truthful feedback. When leaders provide their teams with the truth about their performance as well as the tools to be successful, regardless of personal feelings, this is a sure sign of leading with love. (122)

7.3 The Avoidance

Firing someone is never easy, and it shouldn’t be. In a way, it is a death. (123)

Ensure that the employee understands how serious the issues are before firing is an option.

Handle the tough day in a dignified manner.

Help the dismissed person get his or her life back on track.

Be gracious.

Truthful Chapter Summary

  • Truthful: define reality corporately and individually.
  • Be truthful about the organization.
    • Don’t “shoot the messenger” or confuse disagreement with conflict.
    • Don’t assume people see the truth — speak up.
    • As a leader, it’s usually best to speak last.
    • Consider using a decision-making matrix in more complex organizational decisions.
  • Be truthful to an employee.
    • Same as/More of/Less of is an effective tool to communicate the truth.
    • The same technique can be used in a larger group.
    • Getting at the truth keeps the best people and creates the best decisions.
  • Be truthful in a dismissal.
    • It should not be a surprise to the person being dismissed.
    • Handle the tough day in a dignified manner.
    • Be proactive in giving the person you are firing advice and helping that person get his or her life back on track.
    • Be gracious. Letting somebody go shouldn’t be effortless so that you do it less often.
  • Be open to hearing the truth.
    • No matter how you do it, find an accountability partner or partners in your life who will always tell you the truth about yourself.
    • Don’t guard Magic Johnson in a high school basketball game!

8. Forgiving: Release the Grip of the Grudge

The longer you hold a grudge, the longer the grudge has a hold on you. – Jeff Henderson

CHOOSING TO FORGIVE. …use a set of questions to help make the right decision:

  • Is this a one-time offense or a recurring theme? What is the person’s track record and reputation? Was this offense inconsistent with everything else we have witnessed concerning this person’s character and reputation?
  • What is the person’s self-awareness of this or her shortcoming? Does this person have a contrite heart about the offense? Did he or she apologize? Do I really believe the offense won’t happen again?
  • How does the person’s direct manager feel? We always try to let the person’s direct manager make the decision, even if the appeal comes to a senior leader. The direct manager is closest to the action, and we should never force that manager to take someone he or she doesn’t want. At times, however, there are extenuating circumstances that break this rule.
  • Give the offender the benefit of the doubt if you’re not sure, giving him or her another chance to make it right.

I would also rather be known for being slow to fire and quick to forgive instead of being quick to fire and slow to forgive. (139)

SECOND CHANCES DON’T ALWAYS HAVE A HAPPY ENDING. …no leader can truly control what an employee chooses. But what a leader can control is his or her own actions. (140)

I am not suggesting that we toss out our organizational standards and goals — simply that we keep our hearts soft enough to be open to forgiveness. It may not always be the easiest thing to do, but it’s always the right thing. (140)

Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die. – Malacy McCourt

…release the grip of the grudge. – Jeff Henderson

An act of forgiveness is a pebble in the pond, and the ripples can continue far beyond our ability to know. To a leader who is leading with love, this sounds like a wonderful promise. Is there someone you need to forgive? (146)

Forgiving Chapter Summary

  • Forgiving: release the grip of the grudge.
  • What was done to you doesn’t matter in the end – all that matters is how you respond.
  • Forgive those who have wronged your organization.
    • Consider giving them another chance if it is a one-time offense, they are aware of their shortcomings, and they want to improve, or if you have any doubt about letting them go.
    • Be slow to fire and quick to forgive.
    • Forgiving someone and offering a second chance doesn’t always work out well, but consider it anyway.
  • Forgive someone who has wronged you.
    • The longer you hold a grudge, the longer the grudge has a hold on you.
    • Forgiveness releases you to focus on love and relationship, not anger.
    • Forgiveness can release the person you forgive and give that person a fresh start.
    • Forgiveness has a positive ripple effect that often extends far beyond our comprehension.

9. Dedicated: Stick to Your Values in All Circumstances

I am in love with hope. – Mitch Albom

DEDICATED TO LOVE. If you lead anything or anyone, you are in a position of power, and if you lead with love, you will surprise others — just like Jesus surprised Peter.

A system that follows only the impulses of compassion and solidarity [love] will lose its competitiveness; a system that follows only the impulses of resolve and purposefulness [power] will sacrifice its people needlessly and risk its capability for growth and recovery. A mix of power and love, however, becomes a stance that a leader can hold, and this stance may, in the end, be the single most important factor in enabling a leader to accomplish great things. – Adam Kahane

…the use of power need not become the abuse of power. (154)

9.2 Be versus Do

What kind of person do we want to be? What values will we uphold? What kind of integrity will we have when nobody is watching? How do we want to treat others regardless of how they treat us? | We all have to-do lists, but how many of us have to-be lists? (157)

Do goals will constantly change over time, while be goals should be timeless and rarely, if ever, change. Be goals represent the heart and soul of an organization, its culture. (158)
If a leader scores high on his or her goal achievement (to do) as well as leading with love (to be), the leader will get the best raise — and if he or she does poorly at both, that leader should expect a pink slip soon!

9.3 Leading with Love in Tough Times

Love works — not even in hard times, but especially in hard times. (161)

Dedicated Chapter Summary

  • Dedicated: stick to your values in all circumstances.
  • Great leaders need to use both love and power.
    • Jesus displayed how to have power but show love.
    • Love without power and power without love are ineffective an unhealthy in relationships or organization.
  • Great leaders know how to reward people.
    • Measure both be goals and do goals.
    • Integrate be and do goals in your organization’s leadership development process.
    • Consider a 2×2 matrix to evaluate leaders.
  • Great leaders know how to navigate in tough times.
    • It is possible to lead with love int he difficult times, but it takes dedication to the cause.
    • Leaders must make difficult decisions; how they handle those decisions separates those who lead with love from those who don’t.

10. A Choice You Make

Be the change you want to see in the world – Gandhi

Easier doesn’t grow and nurture a strong culture that brings out the best in people, helping them take risks and live without daily fear for their jobs. Easier won’t build a lasting, healthy organization that attracts the very best and stands the test of time. (170)

ARE WE THERE YET? A second reason organizations don’t lead with love is that most leaders mistakenly think profit is an end in and of itself. Consequently, such leaders make profit the focus of all decisions. The problem, however, is that profit doesn’t motivate most of the frontline people essential to an organization’s day-to-day success. (170)

Profitability is a necessary condition for existence and a means to more important ends, but it is not the end in itself for visionary companies. Profit is like oxygen, food, water, and blood for the body; they are not the point of life, but without them, there is no life. – Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, Built To Last

THE LONG HAUL. The final reason leading with love is rare is that many leaders simply don’t care about the long term. (171)

Leading with love means building organizations that last. (172)

There are two essential activities that take time: developing an organization and developing a brand. Those activities are parallel and interdependent. Leadership is about teaching an organization what you stand for; brand building is bout teaching millions of consumers what you stand for. Leadership and brand building require time, consistency, and constancy. – Joe Kennedy

10.3 Leading with Love: A lifestyle

…when your personal values match your work values, you stand the best chance of being content. (180)

…leading with love is worth it. On every level it is more difficult, and on every level it is more rewarding, more fulfilling, more right than you can imagine. …Let’s show the world that love works. (182)

— VIA —

Overall, excellent. Subtly, however, I have some provocations, mostly irreconcilable dualities.

The idea of using 1 Corinthians 13 as an outline for business strikes me as both beautifully resonant and hermeneutically discordant. Clearly, love is working for Herschend Family Entertainment, and if it can work for them, hopefully it can work for others. Does this not confirm the validity of the Bible’s teachings on love? Does this not also confirm that the way of Jesus (through service) is the most powerful means through which any human endeavor can be accomplished? Yet, at the same time, 1 Corinthians, and the principles of love elucidated there and throughout the Bible are not really business principles. Are we dishonoring the texts that have been handed down to us by this application? Can we call this a “misappropriation” of texts? On the other hand (I feel like Tevye here), why would I not celebrate the connection of business and love, which I do!?

The idea of love as displayed here, and especially in the title, is a pragmatic approach to this virtue, and especially in the context of business. Yet, love ought not be pragmatic, correct? How is this not ultimately self-serving, in a Houdini-esque sort of illusory way (that I am being selfless because it is ultimately in the end going to be self-serving, or at least company serving, but it appears as if I’m being selfless)? There’s a part of me that feels that a company that was truly loving would close it’s doors so that a competitor could thrive. Isn’t that fully selfless? But on the other hand, love is transforming the business from the inside out, and there are selfless acts, such as the Share It Forward program. So, why would I quibble with the high-philosophy of this dilemma when real people are getting real help, and are really being loved? How is this analysis loving?

Okay. So, nevermind all that.

Love works. Love transforms. Love changes everything, including business. I celebrate the good that is happening and ultimately pray that Manby’s book, and the ideas here would spread. Life is too short to be consumed with a work place void of this kind of love.