Wednesday, October 01, 2014

October's Book - Leadership is an Art

Here is our monthly contribution from Don Kardux, providing us with the book-of-the-month to read!

Don begins:  "I’m Dutch and proud of it. Grew older not up in Holland…. Michigan.

Yes, there are pictures of me at three and four years of age in full Dutch costume standing in a field of Tulips. (Debby's note:  now that's an image we should include here!)
I marched in the Holland High School marching band at ‘Tulip Time’ (our May celebration of the mighty Tulip and dollar).  I marched wearing wooden shoes and 12 pair of sweat sox (blister preventers).

We have contributed to catchy phrases, “Dutch Treat” (everybody pays) “Dutch courage” (Whiskey) and the famous “Red light” district in Amsterdam.  But, we have a positive presence. The Dutch are famous furniture makers.

Holland is twenty miles west of Grand Rapids- “Furniture City” and less than four miles west of Zeeland.
Zeeland is the home of Herman Miller Furniture and Herman Miller CEO (at the time- late eighty’s ) was a Dutch gentleman named, Max De Pree.

Max is ninety years old, now, and the book he wrote in 1987 changed my life. Our company's (Business Navigators) approach to helping managers become leaders echoes his philosophy.

James O’Toole, University of Southern California- Graduate School of Business, in the original introduction wrote:
“I got my first chance to visit a Herman Miller factory, I was give carte blanche to go anywhere and talk to anyone, managers and workers. The only problem was that I couldn’t tell one from the other! People who seemed to be production workers were engaged in solving the ‘managerial’ problems of improving productivity and quality. People who seemed to be managers had their sleeves rolled up and were working side by side, with everybody else in an all out effort to produce the best products in the most effective way. ‘The signs of outstanding leadership are found in the followers, ‘Max writes in this wonderful little book.”

Max relates, in his introduction, “Leadership is an art, something to be learned over time, not simply by reading books. Leadership is more tribal than scientific, more a weaving of relationships than an amassing of information, and, in that sense, I don’t how to pin it down in detail”
Finally, on page 11, Max says, “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. That sums up the progress of an artful leader.”

Between the two… it’s the dash following the birth of an idea and followed by the end.

In 148 pages ‘The Art of Leadership’ is more than a good read. It’s a great way to live your life!"

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