Max De Pree on what Leaders Do


Max De Pree was the incredible sevant leader of the furniture company Herman Miller. De Pree was such a good leader and wrote such excellent books on leadership, that eventually a Max De Pree Center for Leadership was founded

Two of my favorite (still worth reading) books my De Pree are:  
Leadership is an Art
Leadership Jazz

Here is one of the most powerful definitions of the Work of the Leader I have yet encountered. There are three things a leader must do.

First - define reality. 
Help people understand what things are, what they mean, and what we have to do about the way things are so we can achieve our vision and mission. Every day, you need to define reality for people. 

Two - say thank-you.
People work hard.  They want to contribute, they want to add value. Do not ever take people for granted. I remember one leader once told me he never says thank-you to people for doing what they are suppose to do. "Well why not," I wondered? Just because they are suppose to do it, doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't appreciate it. I try to say thank-you every day to people for what they are doing.  TRY TO...  

Three - and inbetween, at all times, be a servant.
Leaders are there to do many things. Solve problems, lead change, build teams, cast vision, plan strategy, resolve conflict, work in many areas of technical focus. But the deeper question is - how will you do all those things. De Pree believes that it is the leader as servant who does those things best.

So this is pretty simple. Today, if you want to be an effective leader - make sure you:

Define reality for people
Constantly serve
And say thank-you.

Write these down on a post-it note, or a notecard. Then try leading like for a few weeks and see what happens.

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International
BrianRice@lcileaders.org

LCI - Here to help you define reality, say thank-you and lead as a servant