Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Max DePree, alternatively De Pree or Depree

American Businessman and Writer, Founder of Herman Miller Office Furniture Company

"In the end, it is important to remember that we cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are."

"We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are."

"Earning trust is not easy, nor is it cheap, nor does it happen quickly. Earning trust is hard and demanding work. Trust comes only with genuine effort, never with a lick and a promise."

"We are alone, absolutely alone on this chance planet; and amid all the forms of life that surround us, not one, excepting the dog has made an alliance with us."

"We can teach ourselves to see things the way they ARE. Only with vision can we begin to see things the way they CAN BE."

"Leadership is much more an art, a belief, a condition of the heart, than a set of things to do. The visible signs of artful leadership are expressed, ultimately, in its practice."

"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."

"Leadership is liberating people to do what is required of them in the most effective and humane way possible."

"Sometimes we think we're a little too gifted to show up, yo uknow. But none of us truly is...By avoiding risk we really risk what's most important in life---reaching toward growth, our potential, and a true contribution to a common good."

"Leaders don't inflict pain - they share pain."

"Intimacy is at the heart of competence. It has to do with understanding, with believing, and with practice. It has to do with the relationship to one’s work."

"We see a decline of civility, and, sadly, it’s often modeled by the very people from whom we have the least right to expect it."

"I have come to realize that I have depended on followers for many things…leaders need a lot of help."

"How important it is to learn to say thank you! There are many ways to say thank you, but the problem is to find the most graceful and fitting."

"Questions often make us uncomfortable, especially good questions, but they can be the source of insight and the beginning of progress."

"I realize that not everything can be measured—mystery, beauty, the sweep of a rainbow, the breadth of human potential. Though failure is a reality and sometimes a consequence of measurement, continual success probably means our bar is too low or our tape too short."

"What really counts in our lives is not our technical competence, but the quality of our relationships."

"A team of giants needs giant pitchers who throw good ideas but every pitcher needs an outstanding catcher. Without giant catchers, the ideas of the giant pitchers may eventually disappear. "

"At the core however, I believe there are certain characteristics that I would always seek in a prospective mentor: wisdom, strength of character, shared values, accumulated experiences, continued learning, reflective articulation on life and accessibility. It is the character of the person that draws us to mentors. Mentors have character — they are characters — they live out the commitments of their character."

"From a leader’s perspective, the most serious betrayal has to do with thwarting human potential, with quenching the spirit, with failing to deal equitably with each other as human beings.” Betrayal is a serious word; one we don’t much like to talk about. But the effects of betrayal on both the perpetrator and the victim are long-lasting, deep, and sometimes irreversible. Perhaps now is a good time to reflect upon these questions"

"If you want the best things to happen in corporate life you have to find ways to be hospitable to the unusual person. You don't get innovation as a democratic process. You almost get it as an anti-democratic process. Certainly you get it as an antithetical process, so you have to have an environment where the body of people are really amenable to change and can deal with the conflicts that arise out of change an innovation."

"Whether leaders articulate a personal philosophy or not, their behavior surely expresses a personal set of values and beliefs. The way we build and hold our relationships, the physical settings we produce, the products and services our organizations provide, the way in which we communicate—all of these things reveal who we are."

"Whether leaders articulate a personal philosophy or not, their behavior surely expresses a personal set of values and beliefs."

"In corporate life, I think there are three important areas which contracts can't deal with, the area of conflict, the area of change and area of reaching potential. To me a covenant is a relationship that is based on such things as shared ideals and shared value systems and shared ideas and shared agreement as to the processes we are going to use for working together. In many cases they develop into real love relationships."

"The signs of outstanding leadership appear primarily among the followers. Are the followers reaching their potential? Are they learning? Serving? Do they achieve the required results? Do they change with grace? Manage conflict?"

"We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion."

"Leaders are walking and talking manuals of behavior. As we listen to them, we silently ask ourselves what they did last Friday morning when there was a problem. And we watch. And just as surely as financial people measure return on assets, we all measure the behavior of our leaders. We measure it against our ideals and our realities."

"In some South Pacific cultures, a speaker holds a conch shell as a symbol of temporary position of authority. Leaders must understand who holds the conch that is, who should be listened to and when."