Leadership Is an Art | Max DePree

Summary of: Leadership Is an Art
By: Max DePree


In ‘Leadership Is an Art’, Max DePree delves into the intricacies of effective leadership and shatters the stereotype of the domineering boss. As opposed to clichéd images of exploitative work environments, DePree advocates for compassionate leaders who provide their employees with clear direction by communicating values, vision, and goals. This summary showcases how great leaders make the workplace inclusive, encourage open communication, facilitate change, and create covenantal relationships, ultimately fostering a more humane, intimate form of capitalism.

Good Leadership Principles

Being a good leader is not just about helping and leading employees, but also communicating a clear direction to achieve the ultimate goal. A good leader provides direction that includes values, vision, and goals. Leaders should ensure that employees are engaged in the company’s mission and offer ownership shares to motivate them. Herman Miller furniture company regularly appears in Fortune’s “most admired companies” list because it encourages employee suggestions to enhance productivity.

Developing Healthy Employee Relationships

Developing healthy employee relationships involves treating employees with respect, being aware of their strengths and weaknesses, and fostering open communication. It is crucial to acknowledge employees’ humanity and avoid comparing them to an idealized standard. Focusing on their unique contributions and providing them with the information they need can improve their confidence, collaboration, and task assignment. Strong employee relationships are built on compassion, kindness, and effective communication, involving both listening carefully to employees and wording your ideas clearly.

Embrace Change, Encourage Creativity

Change is an inevitable part of life, especially in the business world. While change can be uncomfortable, it can also foster creativity and make work more fun. When a company goes through a big change, it can stimulate employee creativity and provide new opportunities. To fully embrace change, companies should consider changing their hierarchies and roles, allowing employees to switch between tasks and contribute their specific skills. However, it’s important to ensure that employees feel valued in whatever role they’re in, as they are key to the success of the business.

Inclusive Capitalism

Good leaders can revolutionize the capitalist world by bringing inclusiveness through workplace intimacy and covenantal relationships.

Capitalism has been an exclusive system since its inception, providing limited opportunities for employees to be involved in the production process and benefit from increased profits. This has led to frustration and dissatisfaction among workers. Inclusive capitalism is a way of developing and maintaining a system that involves everyone and provides a sense of appreciation.

Good leaders understand that people flourish in inclusive environments, where they feel valued and involved. Therefore, they embrace inclusive capitalism, which is based on workplace intimacy and covenantal relationships. The traditional contractual relationships of capitalism have been replaced by intimate pacts of care and cooperation. In covenantal relationships, a waiter wants the customer to enjoy a meal, and coworkers genuinely enjoy working together in a team.

Inclusive capitalism has the potential to reform the profit-focused, impersonal capitalist world from the inside out. When leaders incorporate covenantal relationships into their business, everyone wins. Employees are happier and more motivated, and customers are more satisfied. Good leaders transform workplaces into environments that include and value employees, creating a system that benefits everyone.

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