To understand that your role as a leader is to advance other people in life is the highest possible level of leadership maturity. For DePree, the corporate mission is a secondary gain, it just happens naturally when care for people is expressed in measurable ways. I am going to keep this blog simple, I just want to highlight some key concepts that I have gleaned from this fantastic little book:
- To understand and accept diversity enables us to fully embrace others as vital and necessary to the corporate success. Every piece of the puzzle is necessary if there is to be a complete picture.
- Further, this acceptance of diversity allows us to become “abandoned to the strengths of others”1 which is a central theme found throughout this book. True leadership recognizes and embraces other people’s gifts and serves to make those gifts more polished and liberated.
- “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between the two, the leader must become a servant and a debtor.”2 What we can do is nothing more than an outgrowth of who we are.
- Participative management is vital to any healthy organization. To have a say in the process is not the same as having a vote; it is better! I would rather work as a part of an outstanding group than in a group of outstanding individuals.
- In a corporate environment, covenants are better than contracts. They are stronger and more enduring.
- Workers in an organization have a right to be needed; the right be involved; the right to a covenantal relationship; the right to understand; the right to affect one’s own destiny; the right to be accountable; the right to appeal; and finally the right to make a commitment. These rights form the ground rules for working in an effective, life-giving organization.
I think it is a stroke of genius to end the term with this particular book! After all of the crushing weight of the words we have processed over these last months, it is nice to simplify to some very accessible thoughts about being good leaders. These principles will translate into any culture.
On to the Essay!
1. Max DePree; Leadership is an Art. (New York, Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group: 1989) 9.
2. Ibid, 11.