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Lead with Love

  • Whitney Hopler Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • Updated May 01, 2012
Lead with Love

Editor's note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Joel Manby's new book, Love Works (Zondervan, 2012).

Successful leadership is about more than just meeting your organization’s bottom-line goals. It’s about treating people the way God wants you to treat them: with love.

When you lead with love, your organization can become much more successful than it can be otherwise, because people who are treated well will be motivated to give their best efforts to their work.

Here’s how you can lead with love:

Never sacrifice values for profits. No amount of financial gain is worthwhile if it costs you your values, which are priceless. Keep in mind that financial profits aren’t an end in themselves; they will naturally come as byproducts of working well with others in your organization to meet common goals together. Doing what’s right for people also makes good business sense, because people whose values are respected will want to work hard.

Choose to treat people with love, regardless of how you feel about them. Making this choice will bring out the best in all of your relationships. Ask God to help you love even the most difficult people unconditionally, and rely on the power he will give you each day to behave with love in your relationships.

Be patient. When you encounter difficult situations (such as having to deal with someone’s poor performance in your organization), be patient with how you respond. Ask God to give you the self-control you need to admonish people respectfully (protecting their dignity) and in private. Afterward, move on without holding grudges. Praise people much more than you admonish them. When you praise people, mention specific reasons why you appreciate them so they can tell that you’re really being sincere, and praise them in public as much as possible.

Be kind. Encouraging the people who work with you and showing enthusiasm for the work you’re doing together will influence them to choose the same kind attitudes. Every day, try to do something to make the day better for each of the people you encounter, from writing encouraging notes to speaking words of praise or doing some small acts of service to help others.

Be trusting. Place your confidence in the people you work with, and demonstrate that trust to them. Listen carefully to the thoughts and feelings that they express to you, without interrupting while they’re talking. Involve people in the decisions that affect them by: identifying who is responsible for each decision, working together to approve decisions, consult the people who will be directly affected by each decision, and informing the rest of the people on your team. Give other people the freedom to make the decisions they’re responsible for rather than trying to control them, and try not to override a decision that has already been made.

Be unselfish. Ask God to help you think of yourself less and other people more. Personally develop a habit of generously giving your money, time, and talents to help others, both on and off the job. Help your organization help others, as well, such as by giving a percentage of its profits to people in need and mentoring future leaders within your organization. Make decisions through a Socratic method, which involves asking people questions, facilitating team discussions with talented people and making decisions based on those discussions, and summarizing decisions and directions to your team to clarify and build unity.

Be truthful. Work through conflicts in your organization by getting to the truth of each situation, both individually and corporately. Give and solicit honest feedback about the issues you’re facing. Make it your goal to respectfully tell people the truth about their performance while also helping them become more successful, regardless of your personal feelings about them. Listen to others more than you speak. When considering firing people from your organization, give them warnings and chances to improve before letting them go, respect their dignity when dismissing them, and give them advice to help them get their lives back on track. Be open to hearing the truth about yourself in every situation, as well, and find at least one accountability partner who will give you an honest perspective on your own attitudes and actions.

Be forgiving. Ask God to help you release whatever grudges you have against people in your organization who have wronged and hurt you. Keep in mind that what was done to you doesn’t ultimately matter; what matters is how you respond to what happened to you. Give people second chances to correct their mistakes after they’re done something wrong the first time and have expressed a desire to improve.

Be dedicated. Stick to your values in all circumstances, even in the most difficult situations. Use both love and power together; separating them is unhealthy and ineffective. Reward people in your organization, both for being good people and for accomplishing good goals. Seek God’s guidance for making difficult decisions in loving ways.

Keep choosing love each day. Every day that you invest in loving leadership, your organization will grow stronger. Ask God to give you fresh strength each day to model a lifestyle of leading with love to the people around you. Keep in mind that you can exert a strong positive influence on everyone in your organization – no matter what position you hold there – if you treat everyone with love. Ask God to help you see people as He sees them so you can recognize how much they matter. Set goals that are greater than just what you want to accomplish in your organization: set goals that define what type of person you want to become. Remember that leading with love is always worthwhile!

Adapted from Love Works, copyright 2012 by Joel Manby. Published by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Mich., www.zondervan.com.

Joel Manby is president and CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation (HFE). Previously he has worked for GM, Saturn, and Saab. Joel and his wife, Marki, have four daughters and reside in suburban Atlanta. Visit his website at: http://joelmanby.com/.

Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on angels and miracles (http://angels.about.com/). Contact Whitney at: angels.guide@about.com to send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience like an answered prayer.

Publication date: May 1, 2012