Of Leadership

Of Leadership

Leadership is not confined to business. Nor is it confined to the employer/employee relationship. Leadership comes from the gut. It follows you in all transactions with others, whether at the supermarket or at home and whether you are the boss or a desk clerk. Leadership is the sum of our beliefs about the task at hand and how to deal with neighbors, service providers and colleagues in accomplishing the task. It manifests in our actions and words.

On this past, unseasonably cold Mother’s Day weekend, I picked up a book on Leadership, the very best I have read so far: Leadership is an Art, by Max DePree.

If you happen to read this book, beware. It will open your eyes about your own style of leadership well beyond business transactions. It will also open your eyes about the ways others interact with you, which can be painful, though extremely constructive, depending on how you choose to react.

Max DePree was the Chairman of the Board of furniture giant Herman Miller Inc., one of the most admired and studied companies in the United States due to its groundbreaking leadership model and practices. He describes leadership as a duty and solemn obligation as opposed to a source of authority.

The principles expressed and indeed put in practice by DePree give a prominent place to all participants as valued contributors. DePree’s premise is summed up in his own words when he says, “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.”

Let us consider the word “leader” literally, as someone who leads others or a project. Not only does this imply others to follow, but it also requires them to take the lead as well in order to avoid meandering. “Participative management is not democratic. Having a say differs from having a vote”, says Depree. Participative is the key word.

Consider this community, its shop keepers, restaurant owners and Innkeepers. Now consider yourself as you interact with these various individuals. The first leader seeks to guide his or her staff in putting their skills to work for others; the other, you, seeks to guide the transaction in a desired direction. Leadership of some sort is required at all levels. Perhaps we are true leaders when we take ownership of the part we play in any situation.


Source: Leadership is an Art ~ Max DePree

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