Leadership Is an Art Book Summary - Leadership Is an Art Book explained in key points
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Leadership Is an Art summary

Max De Pree

Lead like your employees want you to lead

4.2 (89 ratings)
13 mins

Brief summary

"Leadership Is an Art" by Max De Pree explores the idea that true leadership involves nurturing the potential of others and fostering meaningful relationships. It explains how effective leadership is a form of art that requires continual adaptation and innovation.

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    Leadership Is an Art
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    A good leader guides employees toward pursuing a company’s shared mission.

    In the movies, the “evil boss” is a classic character. He’s intimidating and rude, barking orders at subordinates from behind a big, heavy desk.

    Good leadership, however, is the direct opposite of this caricature. Being a good leader is about being helpful, leading employees in a team with the ultimate goal of performing better.

    A leader provides employees with direction, which has three components: values, a vision and goals.

    A leader should communicate a company’s values. Is the firm family-friendly? Client-oriented? An employee needs to know a company’s core principles, to stay on track with work and goals.

    Leaders also need to be clear about what a company is working toward: the company’s vision.

    Which aspects of the company need to change to keep up with the times? Which traditions should be preserved? Is the company targeting a wide range of customers, or catering to a specific group?

    Finally, leaders have to outline a plan for achieving the company’s vision. What are the specific goals in doing so? Employees need to know what they’re aiming for.

    Good leadership doesn’t stop here. A good leader also makes sure employees are personally invested in a company’s mission, and actively seeks out ideas on how to improve the company.

    One effective strategy for engaging employees is to offer them ownership shares in the company. Giving an employee stock in the company creates a win-win situation; employees are more motivated to generate profits, and in turn, the company thrives.

    Strong leaders create a climate in which employees have the freedom to develop skills and ideas. The furniture company Herman Miller achieved success based on this concept.

    Herman Miller has been encouraging employees to share ideas for enhancing company productivity since 1950. The staff earns a cut of any gains they generate, too. From 1987 to 1988, employee suggestions helped the company save some $12 million.

    This strategy pays off, too: Herman Miller is regularly cited in Fortune magazine’s list of “most admired companies.”

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    What is Leadership Is an Art about?

    Leadership Is An Art (1987) teaches you how to lead your employees in a kind, humane way. The best leaders know that empathy and elegance are the keys to workplace success, not tough talk and harsh discipline. When you look at leadership as an art form, you won’t just improve your company but also make life better for the people you lead, too.

    Leadership Is an Art Review

    Leadership Is an Art (1987) by Max De Pree is a book that offers profound insights into the art of leadership and why it matters. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It advocates for a people-centric approach to leadership, emphasizing the importance of understanding and valuing individuals.
    • Through personal stories and examples, the book highlights the transformative power of authentic leadership, inspiring readers to lead with integrity and compassion.
    • It challenges traditional notions of leadership and encourages readers to embrace creativity in their leadership style, fostering innovation and fostering a positive work culture.

    Best quote from Leadership Is an Art

    A friend of mine characterizes leaders simply like this: Leaders dont inflict pain; they bear the pain.

    —Max De Pree
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    Who should read Leadership Is an Art?

    • Entrepreneurs who want to become better leaders
    • Businesspeople who want to make their business more humane
    • Employees who want to find out how competent their leaders are

    About the Author

    Max De Pree is the bestselling author of Leadership Jazz and Leading Without Power. For most of his career, he’s headed Herman Miller, a furniture company that his father founded.

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    Leadership Is an Art FAQs 

    What is the main message of Leadership Is an Art?

    The main message of Leadership Is an Art is that leadership is a craft that requires a unique combination of skills, values, and relationships.

    How long does it take to read Leadership Is an Art?

    The reading time for Leadership Is an Art varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Leadership Is an Art a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Leadership Is an Art is worth reading as it offers valuable insights on leadership, emphasizing human relationships and the importance of a values-based approach.

    Who is the author of Leadership Is an Art?

    The author of Leadership Is an Art is Max De Pree.

    What to read after Leadership Is an Art?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Leadership Is an Art, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Leadership Blindspots by Robert Bruce Shaw
    • Reboot by Jerry Colonna
    • Friday Forward by Robert Glazer
    • Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek
    • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
    • Primed to Perform by Neel Doshi and Lindsay McGregor
    • Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz
    • Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
    • True North by Bill George
    • Difference Makers by Nicky Howe and Alicia Curtis