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Book Summary: Leadership is an Art by Max DePree

Max DePree’s book "Leadership is an Art," explores the concept of leadership and how it can be developed and practiced through the eyes of former CEO of furniture manufacturer Herman Miller. DePree argues that leadership is an art, not a science, and that it requires a combination of skills, knowledge, and values to be effective.


According to DePree, effective leaders possess several qualities that enable them to inspire and guide others towards a shared vision. These qualities include humility, integrity, and the ability to listen and communicate effectively. DePree also emphasizes the importance of relationships in leadership, arguing that leaders must be able to build trust and respect with their team members to be successful.


One key aspect of effective leadership, according to DePree, is the ability to balance the needs of the organization with the needs of the individual. This means being able to set clear expectations and hold people accountable, while also providing support and guidance to help them grow and develop.


As a student athlete, developing your leadership skills can be a valuable asset both in your athletic pursuits and in your future career. To develop your leadership skills, DePree recommends focusing on the following areas:


Communication: Develop your ability to listen actively and communicate effectively with others. This means being able to articulate your vision and ideas clearly and being open to feedback and input from others.


Relationships: Build strong, trusting relationships with your teammates and coaches. This means being dependable, open, and respectful, and taking the time to get to know others and understand their needs and goals.


Personal growth: Seek out opportunities to learn and grow, both as an athlete and as a leader. This might involve seeking feedback from coaches or mentors, participating in leadership development programs, or taking on new roles and responsibilities.


Empathy: Develop your ability to understand and relate to others, and to put yourself in their shoes. This means being able to listen and connect with others, and to understand their perspective and needs.


Problem-solving: Develop your ability to identify and solve problems, both individually and as part of a team. This means being able to analyze situations, generate options, and make decisions that are in the best interests of the team.


Creativity: Encourage creativity and innovation in yourself and others. This means being open to new ideas and approaches and being willing to take calculated risks in pursuit of your goals.


Ultimately, leadership is about inspiring and guiding others towards a shared vision, and it requires a combination of skills, knowledge, and values. As a student athlete, developing your leadership skills can help you achieve success on the field and in your future endeavors.




Neil Wattier is a Mental Performance Coach leading science-backed performance coaching for athletes at all levels of sport performance. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona and an active member of the United States Air Force Reserve. He has helped individuals and teams realize their full potential while serving as a coach, advisor, and mentor to business executives, senior military leaders, young professionals, youth and adult athletes, fitness professionals, and faith communities.


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