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Leadership Is an Art Paperback – May 18, 2004
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Rather than offering a how-to manual on running a business, DePree, CEO of Herman Miller Inc., a manufacturer of office furniture, details, in deceptively simple but imaginative language, a humanitarian approach to leadership. The artful leader, he argues, should recognize human diversity and make full use of his or her employees' gifts. Further, he believes, a leader is responsible not just for the health of a company's financial assets, but for its ethics. Advocating management through persuasion, and the exercise of democratic participation rather than concentrated power, he favors covenantal relationships with employees that rest on shared purpose, dignity and choice. The author stresses the need for communication, but his only direct guidance concerns the need for job performance reviews and self-evaluation.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Preloaded Digital Audio Player edition.
“This is a wonderful book. It captures Max’s spirit—and he’s a truly exceptional person. But it also says more about leadership in clearer, more elegant, and more convincing language than many of the much longer books that have been published on the subject.”—Peter F. Drucker
“His opus is as worthy as scripture.”—New York Times Book Review
“Like the elegant furniture his company makes, De Pree’s book provides a valuable lesson in grace, style, and the elements of success.”—Time
“Leadership Is an Art is one of the best books I have ever read in my life on the subject of leadership and business management philosophy.”—Sam Walton
“Perhaps we should banish all of our management books except Max De Pree’s recent gem, Leadership Is an Art. The successful Herman Miller, Inc., chairman . . . . writes only about trust, grace, spirit, and love . . . . such concerns are the essence of organizations, small or large.”—Inc. magazine
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Top customer reviews
Leadership is an Art is a good book for leaders and employees. Like many work-related books, most of the topics in here aren't completely new ideas you've never heard of or thought. The concepts shared are certainly at the higher to idealistic level but I think readers will still see many ways they can "go in that direction" and still see real improvements in their work life. De Pree gives very clear examples and deconstructs the pieces of the company-manager-supervisor-employee relationship in a way that makes sense to me, in words I've not been able to find. In short, he shows us the ideal work environment from all perspectives.
Although the book may seem to be aimed at leaders, I think even job-seekers might find this book helpful in showing them what kind of work they should pursue and what kind of company they should eventually seek, even if they can't start there. I believe there are certainly lessons I've learned from De Pree that I can use to fix some work issues.
* 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.