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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leadership Is About Liberating People
On page one of Leadership Is an Art Max Depree writes, "The book is about the art of leadership: liberating people to do what is required of them in the most effective and humane way possible". This is a theme that runs throughout this very wise and in every way excellent work. The following quotes provide some of the flavor of Depree's enlightened and inspiring...
Published on December 17, 2005 by Andrew Schonbek

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good starting point
As a college student about to enter the working world, I felt DePree wrote a good book for a starter. There are many questions about the complexity of the subject of leadership I find important which he did not address. The basics that he did cover, on the other hand, satisfied me.
Published on October 18, 1999


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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leadership Is About Liberating People, December 17, 2005
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This review is from: Leadership Is an Art (Paperback)
On page one of Leadership Is an Art Max Depree writes, "The book is about the art of leadership: liberating people to do what is required of them in the most effective and humane way possible". This is a theme that runs throughout this very wise and in every way excellent work. The following quotes provide some of the flavor of Depree's enlightened and inspiring thinking:

* The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between the two, the leader must become a servant and a debtor.

* In addition to all of the ratios and goals and parameters and bottom lines, it is fundamental that leaders endorse a concept of persons. This begins with an understanding of the diversity of people's gifts and talents and skills.

* Understanding and accepting diversity enables us to see that each of us is needed. It also enables us to begin to think about being abandoned to the strengths of others, of admitting that we cannot know or do everything.

* Leaders don't inflict pain; they bear pain.

* First, as a Christian I believe that each person is made in the image of God. For those of us who have received the gift of leadership from the people we lead, this belief has enormous implications.

* Leaders owe people space, space in the sense of freedom. Freedom in the sense of enabling our gifts to be exercised.

* Participative management is not democratic. Having a say differs from having a vote.

* Interestingly, though in organizations like ours we need a lot of freedom, there is no room for license. Discipline is what it takes to do the job.

* One of the important things leaders need to learn is to recognize the signals of impending deterioration.

* Without forgiveness, there can be no real freedom to act...

Depree has given us an abiding philosophy of leadership. Actually operating in alignment with these principles demands a very high level of integrity - one that few leaders ever do attain. Those that do so unleash forces of transformation resulting in high performance high involvement organizations.

This book characterizes a commercial arena filled with vocational potential. I give it the highest recommendation.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Artful & Philosophical Leadership, October 26, 2004
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This review is from: Leadership Is an Art (Paperback)
Thoughtful and thought-provoking, Max DePree's easy-to-read classic, "Leadership is an Art," was one of the best leadership books I have read. I recommend it to brand-new leaders to help lay a solid leadership foundation upon which to build, and to seasoned leaders and managers interested in sharpening their leadership skills and refining their approach to leadership.

This book is a series of interdependent philosophical essays that are part of a holistic view of effective leadership. DePree defines the art of leadership as "liberating people to do what is required of them in the most effective and humane way possible," and that definition is a theme that runs throughout the book. Another closely related common theme in these non-sequential yet complementary essays is that leaders must abandon themselves to the strengths of others in order to serve them and allow them to realize their full potential.

DePree put a lot of emphasis on people and fostering leadership environments in which trusting, respectful, and effective relationships flourish. His ideas and beliefs about leadership, some that I have never really read anywhere else, were refreshing and stimulating. One largely ignored insight that particularly stood out to me was that "much of a leader's performance cannot be reviewed until `after' the fact." In today's common short-term focus/instant gratification world, such insights deserve our uncommon attention.

Although originally published in 1989, DePree's thoughts, ideas, and approach to leadership are timeless. While some people may argue that DePree's writings are idealistic, I found them to be realistic given the nature of people and the frenetic pace of our hyper-competitive professional environments. Every leader owes it to him- or herself, and to those who allow themselves to be led, to read and reflect on the leadership wisdom contained in this small and powerful book.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for Some, good for others, February 7, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Leadership Is an Art (Paperback)
This book has been an incredible resource for me personally in my leadership development. Every time I feel I need a "refresher" on leadership or what I'm doing in my leadership positions, I pick it up and learn something new. However, it is not for everyone. This is a philosophical, "touchy-feely" book. For someone who tends to be more of a hands-on leader who leads with caring and compassion, it is great! Others who are looking for more of a formula approach to leadership won't find it helpful. It doesn't have lists of do's or don'ts. It isn't the 7 traits that make a leader (like you could ever nail it down to any given number...).
I loved this book, and it has truly helped me in my leadership development. I recommend it to anyone that is looking for something out of the norm of leadership and management books.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most elegant book on leadership you will ever read., January 30, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Leadership Is an Art (Paperback)
For anyone looking to go beyond the status quo of leadership, Leadership Is An Art is required reading. Going beyond the mechanics of leading and into the ethics and philosopy of leadership, the book puts a human face on what can be a very harsh position, corporate leadership. With probing questions, the author pulls out of the reader many insights, and forces you to think through things yourself, allowing you to own the conclusions you come to. If you are in any type of leadership at all, from parents to CEO's, read this book.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Art of Leadership, February 7, 2000
This review is from: Leadership Is an Art (Paperback)
While relatively small in size, this book speaks volumes on how the spirit of leadership should be. Yes, it is idealistic and the anecdotes are entertaining, but I believe it also proves useful to leaders striving to understand how to lead people in a way that benefits everyone. This book aspires to articulate that leaders must transform themselves, not the people around them. He challenges leaders to look beyond what they need, and instead focus on what they owe. DePree has a self-described Participative Management perspective and it is the continuous thread throughout the book. He focuses on how to create a collective culture within the organization which is ideally made up of employee-owners who are the epitome of his affirmation of identity within an organization - not to mention a competitive edge in the marketplace. These lofty aspirations can be actualized in the organizational world by incorporating the idea of "roving leadership" and use of organizational "giants" which are people within organizations who need to be sought out and let run free . . . through the act of roving leadership. In an attempt to define leadership, DePree lays the foundation upon which he feels successful leadership should be judged. His criteria for a leader are not based on a set of interchangeable personality characteristics, but instead a compilation of what a success leader does to fulfill his responsibilities and debts to both the organization and to the people he works for. DePree gives us three specific sentences which I think are not only insightful, but sums up the book's whole philosophy, "The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between the two, the leader must become a servant and a debtor." A rational environment is based on "trust and human dignity while providing the opportunity for personal development and self-fulfillment in the attainment of the organization's goals." For this environment to become obtainable, it is essential leaders and employees trust each other to be accountable for doing their jobs. If proper work ethics and accountability become evident, trust is built and leaders then feel confident giving the space and freedom we are owed as employees. DePree also has a lot to say about leaders being debtors. Leaders owe it to the organizations they work for and the people within it to share their assets to help people reach their inert potential. The leader's various responsibilities and debts are dependent upon the things the people in the organization need, from their leader, in order to become sufficiently accountable. Granted while leadership comes with debts to the future, DePree states a leader's day-to-day obligations are to uphold momentum levels within the organization. Momentum seems to be a buzz word for DePree and it takes on various personas within the organization. It is a feeling among employees that their lives and work are intermeshed and maneuvering toward a conspicuous and genuine goal. The trick to having momentum is to "begin with a competent leader, a management team strongly dedicated to aggressive managerial development, and opportunities." Cultivating vision throughout the organization is a vital part of this philosophy and can be achieved through momentum as well. Momentum has many other uses and is delineated. Overall, the scope of DePree's analysis seems to be ample. However, I feel the depth of discussions on each topic barely scrapes the surface. While maintaining a continuous theme of focusing on the individual's needs, I found some of the points to be slightly repetitive as opposed to constructively detailed. I do however, like DePree's suggestion of observing employees for tangible evidence of outstanding leadership. According to DePree, praiseworthy leadership manifests itself primarily as reached potential, as employees who learn while on the job, and as employees who achieve tasks - just to name a few. Since reading this book, I have formed the opinion that leadership is a spirit, not a list of innate characteristics you must be born with. With the right organizational culture and people to guide you, each of us has the potential to discover the leader within ourselves, even if that role only manifests itself in the form of a roving leader.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leadership for the soul, May 2, 2000
This review is from: Leadership Is an Art (Paperback)
This book is written from an angle no other leadership book takes: the human side to leadership. There is no talk of strategic thinking or efficiency. Instead, DePree artfully talks about how to make people feel needed in a corporation or how to empower people to be giants. DePree's voice is a healing one, writing about how the right type of work can give your life meaning and how leadership is nothing more than service. This book is definitely worth a look.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Leadership book that speaks about the Heart, January 16, 2005
This review is from: Leadership Is an Art (Paperback)
I have read so many leadership books and among all this one stands out the most. In practice of management in real life, often my thoughts take me back to this book. If you have few minutes, before bed or on the train, this book might bring you a total different view of management, what leadership means and how it could be implementated, with a heart. For those who think 'managers are the bad guys' please read this book. For those managers who think they are great but haven't got respect from their technical folks, they could use this book and hopefully it will change theirs lives and lives of many others around them.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Send Out Your Resume, February 6, 2000
By 
This review is from: Leadership Is an Art (Paperback)
I thought that Leadership is an Art was an excellent book. It was concise and a very easy read. Through his example of the Herman Miller Co. DePree showed how an employer can, by sharing in potential and utilizing employee creativity, benefit the company as a whole. It is leadership that can help individuals reach their potential. DePree brought up and interesting type of leadership called roving leadership. These are the leaders that are there when we need them. This book reminds us that as a leader, it is important to be an enabler of others. After all, if those you lead are not successful and do not reach their potential, you as a leader are not successful either. Read this book and you will seriously consider sending your resume to the Herman Miller Co.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Art of Leadership, New lessons on each raeding of this book, March 1, 2004
By 
William T. Johnson (Savannah, GA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Leadership Is an Art (Paperback)
One of those books that needs to be read many times. For each time you read it you learn something new. Take the author's advice and keep a pencil next to you, and use the double spaced lines and extra margin room to take notes. Truly a joy to read. Takes leadership and to where it belongs an art form, for each one of us how we get to the end is a bit different. In his introduction DePree suggests that you not only read this book but that you finish it. By finishing it he means understand and apply what you have learned from this book, notice he wants you to learn, not necessarily to be taught.
I truly believe that is why DePree wrote this book. He wrote it so that others could learn about leadership. To him leadership is indeed an art because leadership centers on people and relationships therefore it is difficult to define. When people look at a piece of art (painting, sculpture, or what have you) we all see something a little bit different than the person standing next to us. True we may all see the same piece of art but to each one of us it means something a little different, the colors, structure, the symbolism they all speak to us in different ways. Leadership is indeed that, there are a few cornerstones of leadership but the application of those cornerstones is the art of leadership.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leadership is an Art, January 4, 2000
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Tracy Rose (Seattle, WA, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Leadership Is an Art (Paperback)
This book was absolutely fantastic! As someone who is just getting into project management, I found this a most helpful and inspiring read! A must for everyone headed for a management or supervisory position. Don't wait for the movie!
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Leadership Is an Art
Leadership Is an Art by Max Depree (Paperback - May 18, 2004)
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