Love Works: Seven Timeless Principles for Effective Leaders Book Summary


Seven Timeless Principles for Effective Leaders

Did you ever read a book that you find yourself thinking about, more than you thought you would?

I finished reading one of those books, and I catch myself reflecting on it.

The ideas are sticky and the words ring true.

The book is Love Works: Seven Timeless Principles for Effective Leaders, by Joel Manby.

Leading with Love

It’s all about leading with love.

It’s a great book with a proven model for creating and sustaining a successful life and a successful organization by leading with love.

Joel has been featured on the hit TV series Undercover Boss.  He’s also been a highly successful CEO at Saturn, and is president and CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment (HFE.)  At HFE, Joel has proven that leading with love works, generating a 14% annual return to shareholders while helping thousands of employees in financial need via the company’s Share It Forward Foundation.  Share It Forward is all about families helping families. (When you buy the book, 100% of the royalties go to this foundation.)

Why lead with love?

According to Joel,  it’s easier to focus on hitting the numbers, but easier won’t build a lasting, healthy organization that attracts the very best and stands the test of time.  when you lead with love, your definition of success expands, and you experience more fulfillment at work than you ever dreamed possible — especially, when times are tough.

Chapters at a Glance

Here are the chapters at a glance:

  • Chapter 1 — A Hard Day’s Night
  • Chapter 2 — The Jedi Masters
  • Chapter 3 — Patient: Have Self-Control in Difficult Situations
  • Chapter 4 — Kind: Show Encouragement and Enthusiasm
  • Chapter 5 — Trusting: Place Confidence in Someone
  • Chapter 6 — Unselfish: Think of YOurself Less
  • Chapter 7 — Truthful: Define Reality Corporately and Individually
  • Chapter 8 — Forgiving: elease the Grip of the Grudge
  • Chapter 9 — Dedicated: Stick to Your Values in All Circumstances
  • Chapter 10: A Choice You Make

What’s In It For You

Here’s what’s in it for you:

  • How to create a more respectful, cooperative, joyful, and loving place of work
  • How to create a better day-to-day experience at work
  • How to be a chief encouragement officer at your organization
  • How to drive kindness throughout your organization from leaders at the top, to those on the front line
  • How to move from a selfish heart to a serving heart
  • How to survive and thrive in a fast-paced organization
  • How to behave with self-control in tough situations
  • How to create a more trusting environment in your organization
  • How to give your skills to make the world a better place
  • How to forgive and move forward more effectively
  • How to create a more effective decision-making process
  • How to listen well to build trust and empathy
  • How to encourage and lift others up with real praise versus clichés
  • How to use RACI charts to make better decisions, involve the right people in the process, and build trusting partners

Key Features

Joel’s book is a work of art.  The art part is how he threads his personal stories and life lessons throughout the book.  The book itself is very easy to read, and each page is either an entertaining story, useful insight, or actionable guidance with real examples.  Here are the key features of the book:

  • Simple and straightforward.  The book is focused, clear, and concise.  It’s easy to follow and easy to implement.
  • Chapter Summaries.   The Chapter Summaries are simple bullet points of the key insights and actions.   They are short and to the point.  They make it easy to absorb and implement the chapter.
  • Pictures.   Joel includes photos from various scenes and memories in his life.  They are a nice touch, and they are tastefully done.
  • Stories and vignettes.   Joel has a gift for sharing stories and keeping the information interesting.  The stories also help show what the principles look like in practice, as well as where the principles came from in the first place.

What is Love

I like the fact that Joel provides a simple characterization of love through a set of attributes:

Love is …

  • patient
  • kind
  • trusting
  • unselfish
  • truthful
  • forgiving
  • dedicated

Make Memories Work Repeating

Love Works is a book that draws very much from Joel’s experience, so it helps to know what kind of environment he works in:  Joel writes:

“I worked with four other people at four other properties that week, but the pattern was the same: hardworking, dedicated employees doing a great job, even while struggling with some aspect of their life.  They loved the company, they shared the desire to achieve our mission: ‘make memories worth repeating,’ and our culture — a culture molded by our founder and purposefully crafted to carry into the future — matched their caring hearts.”

Love the Verb

One of my favorite nuggets in the book is where Joel writes about love the verb.  Joel writes:

“Well, we actually use love to define our leadership culture at HFE.  Not love the emotion, but Love the verb.  We train our leaders to love each other, knowing that  if they create enthusiasm with their employees, the employees will in turn create an enthusiastic guest experience.  I think most organizations avoid discussions about how people should treat each other, and I think that’s what is wrong with a lot of organizations.  Why are we so afraid to talk about love?”

Great Leaders Lead with Love

Yes, you still need to get things done.  But you can play a better game.  It’s an “And.”  Joel writes:

“As I have said before, as leaders we all have to use the power given us to get thing done: to set aggressive targets, to hold others accountable, to ask for resources, to make tough decisions, and to rally people to a common goal and get results. If our organizations go belly-up, what good is love?

Great leaders, however do all of those things and also understand how to lead with love and incorporate love simultaneously.  It isn’t easy or intuitive, which is why it requires a lifetime of dedication.”

What Dedication is All About

It takes dedication.  The journey isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.  Joel writes:

“Dedication to leading with love isn’t just a theory; it’s living out organization-wide processes that identify and measure the necessary behaviors.  It’s one thing to talk about values like leading with love, but it’s another thing to deliver on those values, especially in tough times.  That is what dedication is all about.  Leaders who are dedicated to the attributes of love outlined in this book while getting strong financial results will certainly place themselves in a unique but very successful minority in business, government, and the nonprofit world.  Dedication is the fuel we need to drive toward our goal: to lead with love today, tomorrow, and forever.”

Tough Times, Tough Love

The real test is how you lead when things get tough.  Joel shares how his organization leads with love during the tough times:

  • Patient.  We were methodical and handled all job-loss discussions with integrity and openness.  We took the time to get input from each property and never rushed to judgment.
  • Kind.  We encouraged our employees to get through this together and come out of it a stronger company.  We also encouraged those losing their jobs and actively helped them look for new work.
  • Trusting.  We treated those being laid off with trust by letting them stay for six months while looking for a job.  All of them honored that trust, and all of them found jobs.
  • Unselfish.  All the properties made sacrifices, and Dollywood chose to extend the pay cuts to all managers to save jobs.
  • Truthful.  We were very open in our communication and didn’t mince words.  Our employees appreciated hearing the truth up front.
  • Forgiving.  There was a lot of tension in the midst of tough discussions.  We disagreed, we “fussed and discussed,” but in the end we made the best decisions we could and moved forward in a positive way.

I especially like the metaphor Joel uses for leading with love.  Rather than the mindset of an investor who buys a house only to flip it for a profit, a wise and visionary buyer sees a home as a long term investment and a wonderful place in which to raise a family, celebrate holidays, and grow old.  Imagine creating a workplace where you’d like to grow old, and create memories worth repeating.

Do you create and contribute to a work place that makes memories worth repeating?

Get the Book

Love Works: Seven Timeless Principles for Effective Leaders, by Joel Manby is available on Amazon:

Love Works: Seven Timeless Principles for Effective Leaders, by Joel Manby

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  1. @ Vidya — Thank you. Yes, it is a great book.

    I’ve had the benefit of experiencing a leadership “learning environment” that was compassionate, and yet set a high bar. People expanded their capabilities, grew in their strengths, and lifted each other up.

    This book was very easy for me to relate to because of that experience.

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