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More Than Sound: The Contemplative Leader: A Conversation with Bill George

Authentic leaders have developed a keen inner focus. They know what’s going on inside of themselves. They’re in touch with the relationship between their emotions and their actions. Most importantly, they possess a meta awareness – an awareness of awareness itself.

Bill George, Senior Fellow at Harvard Business School and author of Discover Your True North, has some interesting methodologies for helping leaders master their self-awareness. Here’s what he had to say about a practical technique to develop self-awareness in his recent conversation with Daniel Goleman.

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The Contemplative Leader

When I introduce the concept of inner focus, some people view it as being egotistical. I think it’s just the opposite. Most business leaders I know are incredibly focused, but they’re focused on their business goals. Inside they’re a mess. Why? Because they don’t take time to get clarity about what it is they’re trying to do and who they are. You can’t be a good leader until you have a real depth of awareness of who you are and what you’re about. Otherwise you’re just chasing your tail, so to speak.

All of us – not just leaders – are so outwardly oriented. We don’t truly know ourselves because we don’t spend any time on trying to know ourselves. We don’t take the time to examine why we react when X situation occurs. We just react according to our habits. Business as usual.

People often ask me, how do I gain self-awareness? For me, maintaining an introspective or contemplative practice has been essential to my success. I’ve been a meditator since 1975. I try to sit for at least a few minutes a day, twice a day.

Before that, I was a wreck. I was just chasing everything – 25, 50 objectives all at once. I had no sense of clarity. And when I began to meditate, I gained a sense of what’s really important. I learned to separate the wheat from the chaff. And I come out of it with a sense of clarity. Here are the three or four things that I really need to go focus on.

But I also got a much deeper sense of what I’m about and who I am, as well as a sense of wellbeing and tranquility. Without that sense of wellbeing you can’t really be an effective, focused leader. You can’t feel good about yourself if you continue to let ghosts from the past chase you.

Now, you’re contemplative practice doesn’t have to be meditation. It could be prayer. It could be talking with a loved one in great depth. It could be going for a jog to clear your head. It could be taking a long walk. I happen to like meditation, but I’m not saying that’s the only way.

Gain more insights on authentic leadership fromBill George in Leadership: A Master Class Training Guide and The Executive Edge: An Insider’s Guide to Outstanding Leadership.

 


This article was originally post 10/21/ 2015 on morethansound.net.

Monster Hiring Podcast: Authentic Leadership

Today’s leaders face greater challenges than ever before. 

Yet some of the most accomplished leaders are succeeding in their roles by following what Bill George calls their True North.

In this Monster podcast with the best-selling author Bill George, we hear the stories of authentic leaders, including PepsiCo’s Indra Nooyi and Starbuck’s Howard Schultz, as highlighted in George’s latest book,Discover your True North (Wiley, 2015.) 

Learn what it takes to become an authentic leader, and how it can transform your life and career at any level in the organization. 

Tune in to this podcast on leadership with best-selling author Bill George. 

Medtronic's George, Red Hat's Whitehurst, Citrix's Lipson talk leadership in the C-Suite

Bill George knows leadership - and can attract it when he needs to. 

The CEO that took Medtronic from a $1.1 billion market capitalization to $65 billion, George brought a a leader-heavy crowd to downtown Raleigh early Wednesday for the launch of his new book, “Discover Your True North,” where he told them directly that leadership can’t just be about the balance sheet. There’s room, he says, for “passions” in the C-Suite.

In the audience were a few people used to talking numbers, executives such as ChannelAdvisor CEO David Spitz, SEPI Engineering & Construction CEO Sepi Saidi, Highwoods CEO Ed Fritsch, former IBM site lead Dick Daugherty, Empire Properties CEO Greg Hatem, MCNC CEO Jean Davis and dozens of other C-Levels.

George says he was on track to lead global technology firm Honeywell when he looked in his rear view mirror (literally on his way home from work) and realized he was miserable, an epiphany led him to the “best 12 years of my life,” when he left the company for the much smaller Medtronic, a firm making a big difference in the lives of patients. Satisfaction is achieved by focusing on what you want. Not what you think you want, he says, bringing two Raleigh businessmen in front of the crowd to prove his point: Jim Whitehurst, CEO of Red Hat and Jesse Lipson, site lead for Citrix’s Raleigh operation.

Whitehurst, too, left a “cushy job” for something completely different – in his case, it was Delta for Red Hat.

“Everyone thought I would be CEO,” he says of his time at Delta. Despite a bankruptcy, Delta was a success story, and one he could have ridden to the top. “I remember going home… and saying I can’t go somewhere to lay off a lot of people… I just can’t do it.”

And then the call from a much smaller company came – Red Hat.

“I think a lot of people get enamored with size… versus what gets you up and gets you excited every day,” he says.

Lipson, vice president and general manager, Workflow and Workspace Clouds, at Citrix did the opposite. He moved from something physically small to something bigger when the company he founded a decade ago, ShareFile, was bought out by Citrix. ShareFile had 80 employees when it was acquired, a move that propelled the headcount to more than 600 in downtown Raleigh. And the acquisition was necessary for growth.

His competitors were raising serious cash, he recalls.

“We decided we needed to do something,” he says. And the Citrix wallet would help ShareFile grow.

It’s a new generation of leadership, George says – where it’s about the impact, not just the balance sheet numbers. And it’s not just what leaders are doing in the boardroom.

Since selling, Lipson, like his cohorts on stage, has had time for what George calls “passions.” In Lipson’s case, it’s HQ Raleigh, the entrepreneurial coworking organization he cofounded downtown.

“I’m beginning to see the potential of that as a business,” he says, admitting that, at first, it seemed “like a charity project.”

Today, about 125 organizations exist in the space, creating real jobs and real innovation, he says.

"It’s exciting to see the innovation and entrepreneurship and all the energy in Raleigh and this whole area,” George told the crowd. "I think we’ve always been looking for innovation beyond the Silicon Valley model.”

But whether you’re in the C-Suite in the Raleigh skyline or overlooking Silicon Valley, leadership is different today than in George’s class of C-levels, he says. He points out cautionary tales, such as Enron. He points out to “adjustments” that, today, “would be considered fraud."

“What happened to my generation of CEOs?” he asks rhetorically. “I think we got caught up with charisma and style and equated it to leadership.”

The event was hosted by Three Ships Media CEO Zach Clayton, who has his own entrepreneurship story. Six years ago, Clayton turned down corporate offers to start Three Ships Media, which today employs 55 people. 

Bill George Interview: 'Northern' Exposure to Leadership

From Workforce, Published on Oct. 12, 2015

by James Tehrani

No one ever said leading is easy. You hear about leading by example all the time, but what about examples of leading? Bill George, the former CEO of medical-device-company Medtronic Inc., draws up a road map to leadership in his recently updated book “Discover Your True North.” In the book, he interviews 125 people about their ideas on leadership. What he concludes is that people who learn from their life experiences, or “crucibles” as he calls them, and follow their leadership compass “northward” can achieve “authentic leadership.” Workforce editor James Tehrani recently caught up with George, now a Harvard University business professor, to learn more. An edited transcript follows.

Workforce: Can you give me an idea of what you mean by ‘true north’?

Bill George: True north is your most deeply held beliefs, the values you live by and the principles you lead by. So it’s really the essence of who you are. Who are you as a person? You know your center; it’s like your moral compass.

WF: You talk about the myth that leaders are born. Can you explain that?

George: I think it’s [leadership] a combination of the qualities you’re born with, but then you have to develop. It’s no different from a cellist who’s going to Carnegie Hall. You don’t just show up; you have to practice every day. And I think people need to practice their leadership every day.

WF:  What are some of the qualities that you would look for in a leader?

George: Far and away No. 1 is authenticity. Are they genuine people? Are they good in their skin? Are they real? And do they come across as who they are? There’s some free-flowing ideas about faking it to make it or pretending you have charisma or putting on a good impression for an interviewer. That’s a good way to get in trouble and hire the wrong person. … I think all too often we look at résumés rather than the person behind the résumé. That’s where big mistakes are made.

WF: You interviewed 125 leaders for your book, was there an answer that surprised you?

George: We asked people about their traits and characteristics, and they wouldn’t talk about that. They wanted to talk about their life experiences, their life story. We never expected how important that was going to be. … We hit upon the thing that was the most important, and that’s the impact of the greatest crucible of their life, the most challenging experience they’ve ever had and how they framed that. And the great leaders framed those experiences not as victims — they didn’t just stuff them and forget about them — they used them as opportunities for growth. In the new book, we talk about an emerging concept called ‘post-traumatic growth’ of how people are using challenging experiences early in life to grow as leaders and as human beings.

Bill George Interview: 'Northern' Exposure to Leadership

From Workforce, Published on Oct. 12, 2015

by James Tehrani

No one ever said leading is easy. You hear about leading by example all the time, but what about examples of leading? Bill George, the former CEO of medical-device-company Medtronic Inc., draws up a road map to leadership in his recently updated book “Discover Your True North.” In the book, he interviews 125 people about their ideas on leadership. What he concludes is that people who learn from their life experiences, or “crucibles” as he calls them, and follow their leadership compass “northward” can achieve “authentic leadership.” Workforce editor James Tehrani recently caught up with George, now a Harvard University business professor, to learn more. An edited transcript follows.

Workforce: Can you give me an idea of what you mean by ‘true north’?

Bill George: True north is your most deeply held beliefs, the values you live by and the principles you lead by. So it’s really the essence of who you are. Who are you as a person? You know your center; it’s like your moral compass.

WF: You talk about the myth that leaders are born. Can you explain that?

George: I think it’s [leadership] a combination of the qualities you’re born with, but then you have to develop. It’s no different from a cellist who’s going to Carnegie Hall. You don’t just show up; you have to practice every day. And I think people need to practice their leadership every day.

WF:  What are some of the qualities that you would look for in a leader?

George: Far and away No. 1 is authenticity. Are they genuine people? Are they good in their skin? Are they real? And do they come across as who they are? There’s some free-flowing ideas about faking it to make it or pretending you have charisma or putting on a good impression for an interviewer. That’s a good way to get in trouble and hire the wrong person. … I think all too often we look at résumés rather than the person behind the résumé. That’s where big mistakes are made.

WF: You interviewed 125 leaders for your book, was there an answer that surprised you?

George: We asked people about their traits and characteristics, and they wouldn’t talk about that. They wanted to talk about their life experiences, their life story. We never expected how important that was going to be. … We hit upon the thing that was the most important, and that’s the impact of the greatest crucible of their life, the most challenging experience they’ve ever had and how they framed that. And the great leaders framed those experiences not as victims — they didn’t just stuff them and forget about them — they used them as opportunities for growth. In the new book, we talk about an emerging concept called ‘post-traumatic growth’ of how people are using challenging experiences early in life to grow as leaders and as human beings.

Georgia Tech: IMPACT Presents: Bill George, Author, "Discover Your True North"

From gatech.edu, posted 10/9/15.

Where:

Scheller College of Business

800 West Peachtree St. NW
Atlanta, GA 30308
LeCraw Auditorium
Directions

When:

Thursday, October 15

Lecture
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM

Georgia Tech alum, Bill George is professor of management practice at Harvard Business School, where he has taught leadership since 2004. His previous work includes four best-selling books: 7 Lessons for Leading in Crisis, True North, Finding Your True North, and Authentic Leadership.  With co-author Doug Baker he published True North Groups. His newest collection includes Discover Your True North and Discover Your True North Fieldbook.

Mr. George is the former chairman and chief executive officer of Medtronic.  Mr. George currently serves as director of ExxonMobil, Goldman Sachs, and the Mayo Clinic and also served on the board of Novartis and Target Corporation.  He is currently a trustee of the World Economic Forum USA and Guthrie Theater and a former Trustee of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.  He has served as board chair for Allina Health System, Abbott-Northwestern Hospital, United Way of the Greater Twin Cities, and Advamed.

He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2012.  He has been named one of "Top 25 Business Leaders of the Past 25 Years" by PBS; "Executive of the Year-2001" by the Academy of Management; and "Director of the Year-2001-02" by the National Association of Corporate Directors.  Mr. George has made frequent appearances on television and radio and his articles have appeared in Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Fortune, Harvard Business Review, and numerous publications.

Mr. George received his BSIE with high honors from Georgia Tech, his MBA with high distinction from Harvard University, where he was a Baker Scholar, and honorary PhDs from Georgia Tech, Bryant University, and University of St. Thomas.  During 2002-03 he was professor at IMD International and Ecole Polytechnique in Lausanne, Switzerland, and executive-in-residence at Yale School of Management.

Bill George will speak at Georgia Tech's IMPACT Speaker Series on Thursday, October 15, 2015. Free books will be given to those in attendace. A book signing will be held in the Thorton Atrium following his talk. 

About the Impact Speaker Series:

Since 2002, the IMPACT Speaker Series has brought highly successful business leaders from a variety of industries to campus to share their experiences and give advice to students and other entrepreneurs on topics ranging from "building a venture around intellectual capital" to "successful entrepreneurship in large organizations" and "socially responsible leadership". The weekly series provides Georgia Tech students, alumni and the Atlanta business community an opportunity to network and learn from successful entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and notable business and non-profit leaders. The lecture series is sponsored by the Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship. Further sponsorship for this talk is provided by:  H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems EngineeringWallace H. Coulter Dept of Biomedical Engineering, Institute for People and TechnologyHealth Systems Institute, School of Interactive Computing, and Scheller College of Business.

The series is free and open to the public, reservations are not required. 

Georgia Tech: IMPACT Presents: Bill George, Author, "Discover Your True North"

From gatech.edu, posted 10/9/15.

Where:

Scheller College of Business

800 West Peachtree St. NW
Atlanta, GA 30308
LeCraw Auditorium
Directions

When:

Thursday, October 15

Lecture
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM

Georgia Tech alum, Bill George is professor of management practice at Harvard Business School, where he has taught leadership since 2004. His previous work includes four best-selling books: 7 Lessons for Leading in Crisis, True North, Finding Your True North, and Authentic Leadership.  With co-author Doug Baker he published True North Groups. His newest collection includes Discover Your True North and Discover Your True North Fieldbook.

Mr. George is the former chairman and chief executive officer of Medtronic.  Mr. George currently serves as director of ExxonMobil, Goldman Sachs, and the Mayo Clinic and also served on the board of Novartis and Target Corporation.  He is currently a trustee of the World Economic Forum USA and Guthrie Theater and a former Trustee of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.  He has served as board chair for Allina Health System, Abbott-Northwestern Hospital, United Way of the Greater Twin Cities, and Advamed.

He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2012.  He has been named one of "Top 25 Business Leaders of the Past 25 Years" by PBS; "Executive of the Year-2001" by the Academy of Management; and "Director of the Year-2001-02" by the National Association of Corporate Directors.  Mr. George has made frequent appearances on television and radio and his articles have appeared in Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Fortune, Harvard Business Review, and numerous publications.

Mr. George received his BSIE with high honors from Georgia Tech, his MBA with high distinction from Harvard University, where he was a Baker Scholar, and honorary PhDs from Georgia Tech, Bryant University, and University of St. Thomas.  During 2002-03 he was professor at IMD International and Ecole Polytechnique in Lausanne, Switzerland, and executive-in-residence at Yale School of Management.

Bill George will speak at Georgia Tech's IMPACT Speaker Series on Thursday, October 15, 2015. Free books will be given to those in attendace. A book signing will be held in the Thorton Atrium following his talk. 

About the Impact Speaker Series:

Since 2002, the IMPACT Speaker Series has brought highly successful business leaders from a variety of industries to campus to share their experiences and give advice to students and other entrepreneurs on topics ranging from "building a venture around intellectual capital" to "successful entrepreneurship in large organizations" and "socially responsible leadership". The weekly series provides Georgia Tech students, alumni and the Atlanta business community an opportunity to network and learn from successful entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and notable business and non-profit leaders. The lecture series is sponsored by the Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship. Further sponsorship for this talk is provided by:  H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems EngineeringWallace H. Coulter Dept of Biomedical Engineering, Institute for People and TechnologyHealth Systems Institute, School of Interactive Computing, and Scheller College of Business.

The series is free and open to the public, reservations are not required. 

CNBC - Dorsey Returning to Twitter; Ellen Kullman Stepping Down

CNBC: Dorsey Returning to Twitter and Ellen Kullman Stepping Down at Dupont

Discussion about Jack Dorsey running Twitter & Square; Ellen Kullman stepping down from Dupont.


Watch the video HERE.

CNBC: Dorsey Returning to Twitter and Ellen Kullman Stepping Down at Dupont

Discussion about Jack Dorsey running Twitter & Square; Ellen Kullman stepping down from Dupont.


Watch the video HERE.