Leadership Is an Art
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Leadership Is an Art

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  1,053 ratings  ·  72 reviews
In what has become a bible for the business world, the successful CEO of Herman Miller, Inc., explores how executives and managers can learn the leadership skills that build a better, more profitable organization.
Hardcover, 136 pages
Published August 25th 1989 by Doubleday (first published February 1st 1987)
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This book came to me highly recommended and I really wanted to like it. A leadership book based on treating people like people? Sounds good.

Unfortunately, I found the meandering writing style frustrating and barely made it half way through. I would have preferred a clearer structure and more cleanly delineated concepts. Each chapter bled into another, circling around the same points. Really, it all does boil down to "be nice to other people" but really, who needs a book to tell you that?
Omar Halabieh
I recently finished reading Leadership is an Art by Max De Pree. As Max best puts it: "This book is about the art of leadership: liberating people to do what is required of them in the most effective and humane way possible. It is not a book of facts or history. Though I like to tell stories, the book is not filled with anecdotes. Since it deals more with ideas and beliefs and relationships, it has to do with the "why" of institutional and corporate life rather than the "how"..Those results, how...more
The author, former CEO and chairman of the board of directors at furniture maker Herman Miller, shares his viewpoint on leadership. It’s an idealistic account of what companies can be when leaders are open and understanding. One of his main ideas is that leaders owe a great deal to the companies they lead: they need to provide a statement of values, space for employees to grow, a vision for present and future, momentum (“a debt to the future”), and effectiveness, among other things.

De Pree defin...more
This book was mentioned by my pastor in a sermon. The author, former CEO of Hermann Miller, Max De Pree, describes it as a series of essays. Specifically as a "compendium of ideas about organizational leadership". Indeed, it is a book of ideas and not practices, as he claims.

Although I agree with many of his statements, the book's structure seemed random, without a clear direction. At times, the leadership related terminology used was not familiar (e.g roving leaders, giants) and seemed to be of...more
Sia Karamalegos
I think Max has some great concepts, but they get lost in the confusing writing style. I think taken together, his ideas illustrate the values of a successful leader, but my fear is because of his incoherent writing style, people read this like a horoscope - they find the things that validate their own leadership style but skim over the rest of the very important characteristics of great leadership (partially because the concepts aren't clearly laid out).
This is one of the most powerful books on leadership I've ever read. Written like a personal manifesto, former Herman Miller CEO Max De Pree talks about leadership in terms of intimacy, elegance, joy and grace. He talks about how at great organizations, it's not about what you do but who you want to become. The book is filled with many "aha" moments, and I know this will be one I'll go back to over and over again for years to come.
Timothy Darling
Depree gives ample evidence to support his title, presenting leadership as he does with intangibles like character, service, the valuation of the worker, and the need of the leader to trust his people. His dedication to the concepts of servant leadership and to the Scanlon Principles. After looking up the Scanlon Principles, I found that they predate some of the material circulating in Servant Leadership circles (coming out of the Depression) and yet articulating some of the same ideals. I found...more
Max DePree is the son of D.J. DePree, who was the founder of the furniture maker company, Herman Miller. Herman Miller has been widely recognized as a “brilliantly-managed” organization, dedicated to producing exquisitely-designed and crafted furniture. Max DePree wrote this book to share the ideas, beliefs and principles that have guided him and his father in their business dealings, but that have wide applicability to just about any group activity.

Throughout the book, DePree uses analogies and...more
Christian Petrie
I had first read this back in college for one of my business courses. In the 15 years since, I decided to read it again, to see if I could learn from it.

I found the book to still be relevant for the most part. Even though the book appears to be designed for a management level, I found it can be incorporated to apply to departments as well.

The writing style is easy to read, but it should not be read as a book. It should be read as tool for learning. As I read it I took notes from it and see how I...more
Janae Hakala
Great ideas, simple yet powerful

this book was not life changing for me, nor would.it be for anyone familiar with servant leadership. Most of this book is a great reminder of the potential and importance of people and relationships. It is worth the read through, but also works as a reference.
David Brownlee
One of the best books on leadership out there (in the top five). The book actually discusses what leadership is. Depree shares explicitly the many sides of leadership, in addition he describes that every person in a organization is a leader in their own fashion. The term he uses for this type of leader is a, "roving leader," and these leaders, lead from their experience, education. And in this explanation he notes that good leaders take note of this, and listen. Depree explains the difference be...more
Chadwick Collins
I somewhat struggle with this book. My early work experience was with businesses that were very "dictatorial" and because they were successful businesses (i.e. had been in business 10+ years and no signs of closing in the next 5), I concluded that this was a successful management structure. This book goes against those tenets and shows evidence that the books philosophy works. I am not saying it is wrong, or that one way is better than the other. It just went against the grain of what I know/bel...more
I like the ideas, and concepts depree has on leadership, and running an organization, for instance giving people space to be their best, or being a leader is actually to be in servitude of the ones they lead, and that treating customers as an interruption on your time is something to weep for. While reading this book, I thought of some great leaders I have had in the workplace and their qualities, and depree definitely pinpoints good qualities to look for in a leader, or to use an example to lea...more
Max DePree's book on leadership is written from the perspective of a servant leader who seeks to empower others to develop their skills and effectiveness in the workplace. At the time of writing, he was chairman of Herman Miller, an office furniture manufacturer located in Western Michigan, that has produce innovative office furniture.

It is a simply written book by man who identifies himself as a Christian and as one who has sought to be a people developer. Some might find the book to be too sim...more
Max Depree is the chairman of Herman Miller, the successful family furniture business. Depree writes Leadership is an art, as a quick and concise manner to run a company and more importantly lead people who want to work for your organization. There are ancdotes of workers and business people, with each story telling something valuable. I think this book will be a reference book for me to gather bits and pieces to motivate me and my work ethic. Depree stated "We must become, for all involved, a p...more
An essential read for those considering management.
Pamela Hawley
This book is a quick read and a creative one. What’s wonderful about Max is leadership isn’t just business school principles. Leadership is evolving. It changes from day to day, team to team and we need to be flexible. The most important thing that leadership as an art is we need to be open on how to paint our canvas and most importantly to let people create their own canvases. We should all be considering unique ways to let people have a creative, unique voice. Let them be heard. Appreciate the...more
“One of the first business books I read and a jewel filled with wisdom and wonderful stories about the culture and great employees at the Herman Miller Company. It taught me the value of building healthy relationships, diversity of ideas/people and participative management. This may sound like common business practices today, but they were fairly new concepts in the 1980s. I especially loved how he wrote about creating an environment for staff of ‘realized potential.’”

-Pat Lawler, CEO, Youth Vil...more

A leadership book which seeks, with graceful language, to paint a picture of humane, covenantal leadership in the context of corporate business. Chapters on weeping, communication, tribal storytelling, intimacy, roving leadership, etc. help humanize the leader as a servant manager, seeking to craft artful and caring institutions with committed members. I enjoyed the bullet lists and personal anecdotes. I'll likely read this whenever I need a refresher on leading well.
I enjoyed this book and think that all managers need to read this book and really look at what they do to help a company. Their attitude and daily interactions really do influence the attitudes and behaviors of their subordinates. If the leader is willing to step in and do what it takes to get things done then the coworkers will respect them. Also, if the coworkers are made to feel valued and listened to it goes a long way to helping with moral.
Really less about leadership and more about how to write a great mission statement for a company. I liked the analogy for a company of profits compared to breathing, not the focus of your life but a necessity to continue on. Focused on the importance of finding the role and contribution of your company to society, something the CEO of BASF is often emphasizing in our new add campaigns, solving societies problems through chemistry.
Richard Stephenson
Quick, jam-packed, inspiring, and highly re-readable. A good mixture of "take-aways" and "you'll understand this philosophy and how to apply it once you grow a bit" material. The formatting is so pleasant to the eyes and note-taking. And it's from a good source of God loving leadership that has run tried & true for almost a century. RECOMMENDED for leaders, parents, and entrepreneurs.
Max DePree, former CEO of Herman Miller, shares his philosophy of leadership. For DePree, leadership is an obligation to the people in the organization. He advocates for engagement instead of superficiality; corporate relationships based on shared commitment to vision and values instead of contracts. I really like his ideas but I had trouble understanding his discourse.
Daniel Milstein
This book makes you see things in a different perspective. It's a really quick read and very informative. The author had a lot of good insight as the company he ran was one of the best companies in the world. This is a must read for all who aspire to become great leaders. The content is extremely valuable and the format is perfect for the busy leader.

Good read on the "art" of leadership. Best quote; "Intimacy is betrayed by such things as politics, short-term measurements, arrogance, superficiality, and an orientation toward self rather than toward the good of the group" (p. 56) and "Joy is an essential ingredient of leadership. Leaders are obligated to provide it" (p. 146).
Robert Campbell
If you only read one book about leadership, this should be it. Deceptively brief and easy to read. No quick fixes, no easy to follow step by step formula to advance to CEO. Only genuine reflection on the human condition and the efforts of people to work together to help a business succeed and to increase in moral self-worth.
Dec 15, 2007 Dan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: leaders
Max Depree has written an amazing book on leadership! His format is unique and simple, pulling the reader through the chapters. He gives lessons on how to be a tremendous servant leader, effective, and admired. I manage several supervisors and have encouraged them each to read this ...they have all appreciated it!
Pete Jarvis
The Art of Leadership is a book I would recommend. The style of writing and stories it contains frame a clear and simple message. Treat people with respect and allow people room to both succeed and fail. Above and beyond this the book provides the reader with wonderful set of very human parables.
I've been reading a lot of leadership books lately as part of a leadership book club, and I found this one to be nothing special. The author makes some good points but I think he could have done a lot more to drive his points home, rather than making the readers try to read between the lines.
"One of the best books about making a humane and empowering workplace. At a time when I was about to give up managing others because I didn't see how I could have a positive impact of people, I read this book. It gave me hope that I could have a positive impact on the people I was managing."
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Max DePree is an American writer. A son of D.J. DePree, founder of Herman Miller office furniture company, he and his brother Hugh DePree assumed leadership of the company the early 1960s. He succeeded his brother Hugh as CEO in the mid-1980s and served in that capacity to 1990. His book Leadership is an Art has sold more than 800,000 copies. In 1992, DePree was inducted into Junior Achievement's...more
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“In the end, it is important to remember that we cannot become what we need to be, by remaining what we are.” 61 likes
“(Productive Workers + Innovative Products = Industry Leadership, no?)” 1 likes
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