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Executive espouses leading with love

Joel Manby, author of “Love Works,” addresses OKEthics members
BY PAULA BURKES Published: December 9, 2012

Joel Manby, former chief executive of Saab North America, never will forget how dejected he felt when his former boss called him early one Easter morning and told him to catch the next plane to Sweden, where the next day he was berated in front of his peers for missing sales targets.

In the 20 years he worked in the automobile business, including 15 years as an executive for Saturn, Manby said he thought leadership was only about a company's bottom line.

But after serving the past dozen as president and chief executive of Atlanta-based Herschend Family Entertainment — which operates 26 theme parks including Silver Dollar City in Missouri and Dollywood in Tennessee — he said he now knows leadership also is about leading with love.

“I'm talking about the Greek's definition for unconditional love, or love as a verb; not a feeling,” said Manby, who spoke Friday at the Petroleum Club in Oklahoma City, during a packed luncheon hosted by Oklahoma Business Ethics Consortium with Strata Leadership LLC.

“Even if you dislike or are frustrated with people, or they're nonperformers, you can still treat them as you love them,” he said.

Seven virtues

After the executive appeared on the “Undercover Boss” reality TV show on which he shared some of his unique approach to leadership, Manby authored the book “Love Works.”

The book's precepts are paraphrased virtues outlined in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13: unselfishness, kindness, truthfulness, dedication, trust, patience and forgiveness.

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