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A Tale of Two Musicians (A love story . . . sort of)

I was one of those kids who loved band and didn't notice that it kept me from being one of the popular people in school. I loved everything about it. Well, almost. I tolerated marching band but I truly loved everything else. Band camp was the best. It was band on steroids. One summer's experience stands out though and left me with an enduring lesson on leadership.

This particular camp lasted for two weeks with a different celebrity guest director each week. The first director was someone with a respected international reputation as a composer and conductor. Exciting, right? Not really. He was a tyrant on the podium. I specifically remember being publicly rebuked for patting my foot as I played one of our pieces. He pointed at me with his baton as he spit out the words, "DON'T PAT YOUR FOOT!! YOU LOOK AT ME!!!!" I was mortified but I was not alone. Everyone in the band was the object of his wrath at some point. When the concert came, we played well. We were afraid not to.

The second week brought us an equally respected composer and conductor. He was kind, funny, and respectful. I remember looking forward to those rehearsals. I may have patted my foot while playing but it didn't matter. When it came time for the concert, we played well. We played just as well as we had the previous week. However, this time we there was no fear. Instead, there was mutual respect and love. The contrast between the two directors could not have been more distinct. The lesson in leadership for me could not have been more clear and lasting. If you have the choice, and I suspect you usually do, lead with love.

Which brings me to Joel Manby. Joel is the President and CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment, which owns and operates dozens of theme parks across the country, including Silver Dollar City which is just a short drive from where I live. He is well known for practicing a form of servant leadership based on the philosophy of leading with love. He describes this approach in his book, Love Works: Seven Timeless Principles for Effective Leaders. I recently bought a copy and encourage you to do the same. (Disclaimer: I am a non-paid spokesperson.) It's a practical guide in how to lead with love at work - whatever the size and scope of your business or enterprise.

He outlines seven principles that come from one of the most widely read passages of the Bible, 1st Corinthians chapter 13. You'll likely remember these words

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

I've often heard this passage read at weddings. I've occasionally been privileged to read them as an officiating minister. But as important as weddings are, there's an even broader application.

Here's a summary of Manby's seven principles of leading with love:

  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.

As I've recently written, the topic of love isn't often included in discussions of leadership - but it really should be.

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