Leading Blog






08.29.07

Max DePree on the Good Work of Leadership

Max DePree reminds us in Leadership Jazz that developing one’s leadership just in terms of corporate or institutional needs is not enough. Leaders need to be developing the whole person; polishing all of their gifts. He writes, “Leaders deal in substance and the quality of life, deaf to the calls to pursue quantity and appearances.”
Leadership Jazz


Polishing our gifts isn’t something we should try to do on our own. Nor is it just about us. It’s also about the people around us.

The process first requires that we have an accurate view of ourselves to know who we are and what we believe in. One question DePree asks himself is “What do my family and I need to cultivate to reach our potential?” It becomes a process of broadening and deepening ourselves and through us, those close to us. “Good leadership includes teaching and learning, building relationships and influencing people, as opposed to exercising one’s power.” He suggests the following activities:
  • Make a parallel track for responsible work in your life
  • Practice leadership without power — serving on a school board or coaching tee-ball
  • Learn your language and use it with respect
  • Learn to communicate in public
  • Participate regularly in an intellectual pursuit
  • Learn who and what gives you health
  • Begin to ponder seriously ideas for a second—or third—career
  • Ask yourself frequently, “What truly gives meaning to my life?”
He writes, “A rising level of din threatens to drown out the voices urging us to do the good work of leadership, part of which is polishing gifts. This din takes the form of distractions, addictions, and institutional politics. . . . By moving personally and organizationally toward restraint and simplicity, we give ourselves a chance. It really comes down to setting priorities, as banal as that phrase has become.”

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:55 AM
| Comments (0) | This post is about Personal Development



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