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Timeless Principles for Effective Leadership

By Amanda Morad | October 17, 2012

President and CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment Corp., Joel Manby
Photo by Alex Perry

Reflecting on a full and illustrious 30-year business career, President and CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation (HFE), Joel Manby, had much to offer the 335 guests at Regent University's Executive Leadership Series (ELS) luncheon on Wednesday, Oct. 17. Held each month, ELS brings together businessmen and women in Hampton Roads to hear from business and leadership experts.

"My entire life in business, I've been taught that it's all about the bottom line," Manby said. "It is about the bottom line, but it's also about loving people well."

This is the sentiment Manby presented, speaking from his new book, Love Works: Seven Timeless Principles for Effective Leadership. The book takes the Greek verb agape, meaning love, and defines it by seven attributes outlined in 1 Corinthians 13—Love is patient, kind, trusting, unselfish, truthful, forgiving and dedicated. Applying these attributes to leadership in the workplace, Manby drew from personal experience to demonstrate how leading with love can work in Corporate America.

Before joining HFE, Manby spent 20 years in the auto industry with Saturn, GM and Saab. The example of leadership he saw there inspired him to find a better way—that search began on Easter Sunday, 1999. Manby was unexpectedly called away from his family only to be humiliated by a boss half a world away in front of a group of peers. On his way home from the berating, he reflected on three important concerns that changed his life:

—Can I have a meaningful career and find the balance between people and profit?

—Is it possible to not be a different person at home, at work and at church?

—Can I live out my faith in the workplace?

"There's a better way to lead," Manby concluded. "You can care about people and profits, you can be one person at home and at work, and you can work out your faith in the workplace."

He learned all this from Jack Herschend, founder of HFE, who offered Manby the role of CEO in 2003 after he'd served on the corporation's board of directors for five years. "To have A+ players working well together, you have to have great relationships," he said. "That stems from principles of agape love."

Manby took time to outline four of the seven principles, giving the audience an idea of what it's like to lead with love. The first trait he discussed was being unselfish.

"We're not talking about thinking less of yourself; we're talking about thinking about yourself less." Showing a brief video from his episode of CBS's hit show Undercover Boss in 2010, in which he gave generous gifts to several employees from the company's Share It Forward Foundation, Manby explained that it's possible to give of oneself in the workplace. "Do for one what you wish you could do for everybody," he encouraged. "Whatever you've got that God's given you, use it to help others."

Manby also talked about being kind, citing Jack Herschend's thoughtful handwritten notes to employees and even their families. "I think leaders need to be more encouraging," he said. "No one has ever had too much encouragement in their lives."

He also addressed the importance of being truthful and of being dedicated to values in all circumstances. "If the leaders aren't dedicated to being patient, kind, trusting, unselfish, truthful and forgiving, no one who follows them will be."

Learn more about ELS and register for next month's luncheon.


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