Leading with Love, STS Federal, Love Works

A Blog Series by STS Federal President and CEO, Cliff Ingari

Years ago, a friend told me, “You can love a rock, but it can’t love you back.” As I thought about how to describe the American corporate experience that I’ve witnessed, this rock crept up in my mind.

We’ve all seen it – educated, passionate, and hardworking people whose personal success is dependent upon a company’s success. In fact, the company’s profit margin begins to dictate the self-worth of these hardworking folks. They work weekends to finish reports, miss their child’s school play to take an international call, and respond to emails at the dinner table.

And yet, the first time they’re 15 minutes late to work, they’re disciplined as if they personally stole money from the company. In fact, that’s one of the statements I heard used in response to someone who was late for work – they were stealing from the company! That supervisor didn’t ask questions about their employee’s challenges that morning, nor did they consider the long nights and weekends that employee put in over their many years of dedicated service. The supervisor and the company — they were that rock.

Although I have been an entrepreneur for a little over 20 years, from an early age I found myself studying businesses and what makes them successful. Most people say it’s the people, but I like to redefine that as; how a company treats its people.

During my tenure as president of AVT Simulation, we held tight standards in developing and upholding our culture to be people centric. But like most companies, as we grew, the culture was compromised with new styles by leaders and differing philosophies. All were good people, but came from different backgrounds and ideologies of what “people first” really meant. In 2015, a friend introduced me to Joel Manby, the author of the book, “Love Works.” The book was centered around people with the premise that you can run a very successful company without compromising a people-centric culture. Joel Manby was the president and CEO of both SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and Herschend Enterprises. He was also featured on the CBS series, Undercover Boss. Watching the episode gave a glimpse of how this leader genuinely cared about his people and the success of his organization.

Based on Christian principles, Manby offers seven characteristics for ‘Leading with Love’, which include patience, kindness, trust, unselfishness, truthfulness, forgiveness, and dedication. I was so impressed by how his heart and approach led organizations to success that we adopted the principles of the book here at STS Federal.

Our senior leadership team began to meet weekly to discuss Manby’s book chapter by chapter. At first, there was resistance simply because of the title and that touchy, feely word – “Love.” But as Joel explains it, Love is a Verb. In business, it’s the action and not the emotion.

At STS Federal, employees are valuable for more than what they offer our bottom line. In fact, by prioritizing employee quality of life, I’ve seen productivity and profits grow. I believe that is because when employees are given the room to lead a full professional AND personal life, they are motivated to succeed in both.

That’s why I must share Manby’s, and now my own, philosophy. We don’t have to be slaves to rocks that can’t love us back. We can create companies that sincerely care about the people who contribute to its successes. Love Works! And I want to tell you all about how it can work for you too.

Stay tuned for my next article on patience.

To purchase Joel Manby’s book, Love Works, visit: https://joelmanby.com/books/.