Six Flags. Seven Principles. One Love.

Six Flags. Seven Principles. One Love. September 19, 2014

Can a company in today’s cutthroat world actually run on biblical principles – and prosper? Can an organization be guided by faith and still be sensitive to a diverse world? Can you take the words of Jesus and put them in a corporate setting?

There is a company that’s doing precisely that– Herschend Family Entertainment, which runs 26 theme parks such as Dollywood and Stone Mountain.

Joel Manby is the CEO and cheerleader for a relationship-based organization that makes a difference in it’s employees lives, resulting in a better experience for its customers.

Manby appeared last year on CBS’ Undercover Boss where he wowed audiences with his personable, relatable style of servant-leadership.

He also wrote the book, Love Works: Seven Timeless Principles for Effective Leaders

Notice – it doesn’t say, “Love Work.”  Love is not the verb. Love is the noun. Works is the verb. Can love really work at your organization?

How odd to use this word in the corporate environment. But after reading the book and seeing the examples, I think this could really revolutionize any business – big or small. It could even change an entire society.

Jesus’ primary command to his followers was to love God. The second command was to love others, even as he loved us.

Love is good in church and in home and with interpersonal lives, but it doesn’t always transfer to the organization level. This book shows you how.

“The way I lead shows that God is at work in my life,” writes Manby.

Manby’s previous corporate experience included stints at GM, Saturn and Saab. There it was all about metrics, numbers, productivity and output. There was very little talk about love – except to keep it out of the workroom.

In the book, he reveals that Hershend still has  need to be responsible to the investors – they still need to measure popcorn sales and make sure the workhours match the workload. But love permeates every number and every employee interaction.

“Treating someone with love regardless of how you feel about that person is a very powerful principle. . .It can make us great spouses, great parents, and great friends. Great leaders too.”

Manby says this. “I define personal success as being consistent to my own personal mission statement:  to love God and love others.”

The company has seven principles for success, and you’ll see the gospel infused in every one of them:

  1. Be patient—demonstrate self-control in difficult situations.
  2. Be kind—show encouragement and enthusiasm.
  3. Be trusting—place confidence in those around you.
  4. Be unselfish—think of yourself less.
  5. Be truthful—define reality corporately and individually.
  6. Be forgiving—release the grip of the grudge.
  7. Be dedicated—stick to your values in all circumstances.

 Manby emphasizes that employees don’t have to people of faith or Christians. But they do have to exhibit loving behavior as displayed in the seven principles.

“The rest takes care of itself,” he writes.

Every day, Manby writes a personal note to an employee, thanking them. “They have powerful impact. They reinforce good behavior.”

The company has a Share it Forward fund. Employee donations are matched by the company and those pooled monies are used to take care of employee needs. Last year more than 800 families received assistance from vehicles to funds for medical care to bereavement travel.

Not a CEO or in a leadership role? Manby doesn’t let you off the hook. His last chapter has a challenge. “It’s up to you.”

“Any employee at any level has the power to make a difference with love.”

“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.”

This post is in response to the High Calling’s quest for the Best Book’s for Business. What other books have influenced you? I encourage you to join the conversation here and at the High Calling.


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