Advice To Bosses: Try a Little Kindness

At a time when best-selling management-advice books tell corporate leaders how to behave like Attila the Hun, the philosophy at Herman Miller, Inc., is more closely attuned to the gentle precepts of St. Francis of Assisi. As described by chairman Max De Pree, 64, in Leadership Is an Art (Doubleday; $17.95), modern corporations should be communities, not battlefields. At their heart lie "covenants" between executives and employees that rest on "shared commitment to ideas, to issues, to values, to goals, and to management processes. Words such as love, warmth, personal chemistry are certainly pertinent."

This soulful style has worked well for...

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