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317 7.4

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In Leadership is an Art by Max DePree, he encourages leaders to empower their

employees to make decisions without fear of consequence. As a former company executive

himself, he authored several books on people-centered leadership styles that championed

diversity, inclusion, and mutual respect. Making the case for a difference between “roving”

informal leaders and “hierarchical” leaders who support the roving leader, DePree states that

“roving leadership is the expression of the ability of hierarchical leaders to permit others to share

ownership of problems and take possession of the situation” (1987). Ultimately, DePree argues

that a variety of leadership styles have a reason to be in the workplace and smart leaders, whether

they are roving or hierarchical, make beneficial contributions to the organization that are for the

greater good.

When I think about experiences of empowerment, I find that they are equally professional

and personal. Although I have limited professional experience as a full-time student in

university, what I have learned from the somewhat professional spaces that I have been in is that

anyone can contribute, especially to leadership. Thinking about the example given on DePree’s

experience at Herman Miller by research manager Bill Foley, I wonder how much of it was a

decision he made based on his own knowledge or if it was through collaboration with teammates.

I believe that anyone in the organization can contribute to the knowledge of leaders and enable

great decisions to be made, such as the decision to not use scarce materials in the construction of

a hallmark and top-selling product for the brand. Relative to my own experience, I have given

input within group projects in which I was not the leader to aid him or her in making decisions

for the overall betterment of the group. It is not as hierarchical in the group being that we are all

college students, but knowing that we held certain positions and were expected to show up and
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do our part irrespective of title is what taught me that all have a voice within the organization.

Foley, in Herman Miller’s case, credited the decision to the company’s strong ethics; I have not

been in a situation in which so much is on the line, but I am learning quickly that all voices in the

organization are important, should be valued, and can have a positive effect on leadership (Uhl et

al., 2015).

In my personal experience, being a leader is not something that comes naturally. I can

struggle with finding my voice and being confident in it at times, so I have fewer empowering

moments when it comes to the people with whom I have close relationships. From what I have

learned about hierarchical support and “bottom-up” leadership, it seems like it would be more

difficult to implement in my personal life. I am, admittedly, a people-pleaser and like to maintain

harmony between myself and others and others in general. My voice is not as strong as I would

like it to be to have moments of empowerment in my life. The art of leadership, but especially

confidence, has not been mastered in my personal life. Hopefully what I learn in this course will

propel me to a place where I feel confident using my voice and can stand up for myself. Leaders

use power to empower their employees and that is not something that I possess in my personal

life as I have no reign or dominion over others. Perhaps it is not leadership in the formal sense

that I should apply in this area of my life, but having the characteristics of a leader in general.
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References

DePree, M. (1987). The art of leadership. New York: Doubleday.

Uhl-Bien, M., Schermerhorn, J., & Osborn, R. (2015). Organizational Behavior (13th ed.). John

Wiley & Sons.