Leadership Is An Art was recommended to me by our Library Director, Melissa Moore.
This book was written by Max De Pree, the former CEO of Herman Miller, Inc. De Pree shares what he learned from his experiences as a leader and encourages future leaders to “define reality” for their teams.
What Leadership Is An Art does right: De Pree believes that a leader is someone who “removes obstacles that prevent people from doing their jobs.” The leadership described in Leadership Is An Art is one of servant-leadership: the focus is more on the people being led rather than on the greatness of the leaders themselves.
De Pree encourages leaders to know themselves, their assumptions about other people and their jobs, and their personal values. I would definitely agree that a good period of self-reflection can help someone realize how their beliefs affect their leadership. This can also help leaders be honest and straightforward with their team about what they expect, what their goals are, and how they can grow together.
This particular quote from James O’Toole’s foreword stands out:
In short, the true leader is a listener. The leader listens to the ideas, needs, aspirations, and wishes of the followers and then- within the context of his or her own well-developed system of beliefs- responds to these in an appropriate fashion.
As a manager, this is something I strive to do each day: listen to my employees and implement their ideas if we are able (sometimes the money isn’t there, or a policy they’re not yet familiar with could restrict their plan). If we aren’t able to do what they suggest, then we can look for alternate solutions and other ideas together.
What Leadership Is An Art gets wrong: This book is short and to-the-point (which could be a vice or virtue, depending on the reader). If you’re looking for in-depth stories and analysis, this may not be the leadership book for you.
Who should read Leadership Is An Art: Anyone who is in or is about to assume a position of leadership.
Who shouldn’t read Leadership Is An Art: I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t get at least a few words of wisdom out of this book, even if they are not a leader currently.
You can check out this book from our Faculty Development Collection!