Bill George Go To
discoveryour
truenorth.org

Bill George

Harvard Business School Professor, former Medtronic CEO

Category: True North

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. 

Huffington Post: Are You an Empowering Leader?

From The Huffington Post, Posted October 6, 2015.

“Where is the spiritual value in rowing? The losing of self entirely to the cooperative effort of the crew.” — George Yeoman Pocock, boatbuilder, 1936 Olympic gold medal winner

Stepping into a Zappos call center is like walking into a circus. Phones ring, voices rise, and laughter bounces around the room. If you closed your eyes, you’d think you’d entered a loud family reunion, not a billion dollar company.

Zappos employees work in a fiercely proud culture. Only 16 years after founding Zappos, CEO Tony Hsieh has made the online shoe-retailer into one of best places to work in the world. Zappos employees not only love their work, they care deeply about others in the community.

How did Hsieh do it? By empowering his employees to lead.

In Eyewitness to Power, David Gergen writes, “At the heart of leadership is the leader’s relationship with followers. People will entrust their hopes and dreams to another person only if they think the other is a reliable vessel.”

There was a time when leaders thought their role was to exert power over others. No longer. Today’s best leaders — people like Ford’s Alan Mulally, General Motors’ Mary Barra, and Google’s Larry Page — recognize their leadership is most effective when they empower others to step up and lead. That’s exactly what the new generation of Gen X and Millennials expect from their leaders, and they respond with great performance.

Tony Hsieh focuses on relationships first and business second. In good times and bad, Hsieh’s communications are authentic, funny, and informal. He speaks directly and personally to his colleagues. As Hsieh says “if you get the culture right, most of the other stuff…will just happen naturally.”

Hsieh reflects traits of an “empowering leader.” These leaders have discovered that helping people find purpose delivers superior results than forcing subordinates to be loyal followers. By giving others the latitude to lead, they expand their own potential impact.

So, how can you empower others? In Discover Your True North, I profile five things great leaders do.

1. Treat Others as Equals
2. Listen Actively
3. Learn From People
4. Share Life Stories
5. Align Around the Mission

Treat Others as Equals
We respect people who treat us as equals. Warren Buffett, for example, gives equal attention to every person he meets. He has the same sandwich and Cherry Coke combination with a group of wide-eyed students as he does with his close friend Bill Gates. Buffett does not rely upon his image to make people feel he is important or powerful. He genuinely respects others, and they respect him as much for those qualities as for his investment prowess. By being authentic in his interactions, Buffett empowers people to lead in their own authentic way.

Listen Actively
We are grateful when people genuinely listen to us. Active listening is one of the most important abilities of empowering leaders, because people sense such individuals are genuinely interested in them and not just trying to get something. The leadership scholar Warren Bennis was an example of a world-class listener. He patiently listened as you explained your ideas and then thoughtfully contributed astute observations that came from a deep well of wisdom and experience.

Learn from People
We feel respected when others believe they can learn from us or ask for our advice. The best advice I ever got about teaching came from my Harvard Business School (HBS) colleague Paul Marshall, who was one of HBS’s greatest teachers. He told me, “Bill, don’t ever set foot in an HBS classroom unless you genuinely want to learn from the students.” I have taken his advice into every class I have taught for the past 12 years, telling MBA students and executives, “I feel certain I will learn a lot more from you than you do from me.” The students find that hard to believe at first, but they soon see how their feedback helps me understand how today’s leaders and MBA students think.

Share Life Stories
When leaders are willing to be open and share their personal stories and vulnerabilities, people feel empowered to share their own stories and uncertainties in return. On Thanksgiving eve in 1996, I sent an e-mail to all Medtronic employees, expressing my gratitude for the support Penny and I received following her ordeal with breast cancer and chemotherapy. We were overwhelmed by the number of people who spontaneously shared their stories with us.

Align Around the Mission
The most empowering condition of all is when the entire organization aligns with its mission, and people’s passions and purpose synchronize with each other. It is not easy to get to this position, especially if the organization has a significant number of cynics or disgruntled people. Nonetheless, it is worth whatever effort it takes to create an aligned environment, including removal of those who don’t support the mission.

Leaders of every organization have an important responsibility to articulate how their company contributes to humankind. At Medtronic, our mission was to restore people to full health and wellness. At Disney, it’s to make people happy. Even at the most “boring” business-to-business company, the business can play a powerful role in improving the lives of its stakeholders – customers, employees, suppliers, and community.

With leadership comes responsibility. As Clayton Christensen wrote, “No other occupation offers as many ways to help others learn and grow, take responsibility and be recognized for achievement.”

It’s time to lead authentically. You can do so by focusing on empowering others.

A team of empowered leaders all rowing in the same direction is hard to beat.

Forbes: Why Leaders Need To Keep Their Eyes on True North

From Forbes, Posted October 5, 2015.

The term “authenticity” is much bandied about in leadership circles these days. Politicians like the new leader of the British Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn or the would-be Democrat candidate for President Bernie Sanders seem to be gaining from a desire among the public (some parts of it at any rate) for a change from the slick and manufactured. Similar notions are abroad in business, too. Brands seek to demonstrate their authenticity – through how they manufacture their goods, how they do business or just where they come from. And now corporate leaders – perhaps because they are having to guide their organizations through turbulent times – are trying to show how real and genuine they are.

To be fair, Bill George, whose book, Discover Your True North (Wiley), is published this month, has been a proponent of authentic leadership for some time. The current book continues a theme that began back in 2003, when he published Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value, and continued four years later with True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership. Indeed, a significant part of the book deals with leaders interviewed for the 2007 book, and George is pleased to report that “the vast majority of them are doing exceptionally well.”

However, while there are many fascinating stories of leaders who have overcome great adversity – for example, Howard Schultz of Starbucks, who still remembers his roots in a poor neighborhood of New York City and Reatha Clark King, who has gone from the cotton fields of Georgia to become a director of such companies as Exxon-Mobil and Wells Fargo – the book is not a parade of feel-good stories about down-home values winning out. Rather, George, a former CEO of the medical technology and services company Medtronic who now teaches leadership at Harvard Business School, devotes space early on to how leaders can “lose sight of their True North” and so run into trouble. “People who lose their way are not necessarily bad people. They have the potential to become good leaders, even great leaders. However, somewhere along the way, they get pulled off course,” he writes.

Given that there is plenty of advice available on how to become a good or even great leader, it is perhaps worth lingering on the ways in which George believes people can drift off course.

Losing Touch with Reality. “Leaders who focus on external gratification instead of inner satisfaction have trouble staying grounded,” writes George. “They reject the honest critic who holds up a mirror and speaks the truth. Instead, they surround themselves with sycophants – supporters telling them what they want to hear.”

Fearing Failure. “Underneath their bravado lies the fear that they are not qualified for such powerful leadership roles,” says George. As a result, they become paranoid that at some point they will be found out.

Craving Success. This is the other side of fearing failure. “Most leaders want to do a good job for their organizations, be recognized, and rewarded accordingly,” George writes. However, when they achieve success, they gain added power and enjoy the prestige that accompanies it. “That success can go to their heads, and they develop a sense of entitlement. At the height of some leaders’ power, success itself creates a deep desire to keep it going, so they are prone to pushing the limits, thinking they can get away with it.”

The Loneliness Within. As the cliché has it, it is lonely at the top. Quite simply, even the ablest people can be thrown off balance by the enormity of the task – and the responsibility – that they have taken on. In their efforts to stay on top of things, many leaders end up losing touch with people outside work – friends, spouses, children – to the extent that their work becomes their life. A particular aspect of this is that in seeking to satisfy all the external forces putting pressure on them, they lose sight of their own view. “Over time little mistakes turn into major ones. No amount of hard work can correct them,” says George. “Instead of seeking wise counsel at this point, they dig a deeper hole. When the collapse comes, there is no avoiding it.”

In examining leaders who have lost their way, George and his colleagues identify five types. All are linked directly by their failure to develop themselves. They are:

Imposters, who lack self-awareness and self-esteem;

Rationalizers, who deviate from their values;

Glory Seekers, who are motivated by seeking the world’s acclaim;

Loners, who fail to build personal support structures; and

Shooting Stars, who lack the grounding of an integrated life.

Through asking readers to look closely at the archetypes – and the well-known examples he cites (who include former New York Stock Exchange CEO Richard Grasso and former Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld but are not confined to fallen financial services giants) – George hopes to instill in leaders and those aspiring to join them that just wanting the position is not enough. “Before you take on a leadership role, ask yourself: ‘What motivates me to lead this organization?’ If the honest answers are simply power, prestige and money, you are at risk of being trapped by external gratification as your source of fulfillment,” he writes. “There is nothing wrong with desiring these outward symbols [his italics] if, and only if, they are balanced by a deeper desire to serve something greater than yourself. Extrinsic rewards exert a force that can pull you away from True North if not counterbalanced by a deeper purpose or calling that gives you a passion to lead.”

 

Huffington Post: The Inner Work of Leaders

From The Huffington Post, Posted September 24, 2015.

The following is an excerpt from Daniel Goleman’s new collection, The Executive Edge: An Insider’s Guide to Outstanding Leadership.

Daniel Goleman: You say that you have to do a certain kind of inner work to find your true north, to be an authentic leader. What is that inner work, and where does it lead?

Bill George: I think it starts with your life story, knowing where you came from, who you are, what really is important. What has shaped you along the way. And what we found was everyone wants to talk about that, but about 80% of the people want to talk about the crucible — the most difficult time of their life. Think of the crucible where the refiner’s fire tests you, and that’s where you’re really tested. We aren’t tested by success; we’re tested by going through a very difficult time and saying, “If I can get through this, I can get through anything.” You don’t deny that you went through that, and I think that’s what shapes you, but the key is: How do you frame that crucible?

Goleman: The crucible can be a job loss, a disaster, a business going under?

George: A rejection by good friends, not being cool in school. I lost seven elections. Was I a failure? Yeah, but I had to learn from that experience. I wanted to be a leader and I was being rejected, seven times in a row.

If you aren’t willing to live it, if you go into denial and say, “well, that didn’t happen” — actually it did happen. It’s part of who you are, so it’s how you frame it. Can you frame yourself as a victim? “Those kids didn’t like me, so that was the problem,” or do you see how that was a great learning experience, and ask yourself, “how do I learn?” And so that then shapes what we call your true north, your most deeply held values and beliefs. What do you really believe, at your core? Do you believe people are inherently good, or basically not good? What are the values you live by, and then what are the principles you translate into leading or interacting with people?

And people know what those are. I’ve rarely encountered anyone who didn’t know. The question is: “Can I stay on course? Can I be successful? They’re going to kill me. If they knew who I really was, they wouldn’t be interviewing me.” Well, actually, they might! It’s a cathartic experience to share who you are, and not be rejected. I think that’s so important, because otherwise you’re living a lie. You’re hiding parts of you — that you got fired from a job, that you had problems. But that’s part of who we are. If that’s what has shaped you, it’s a good thing.

Goleman: What’s the role of self-awareness in finding your authentic self?

George: There’s been a lot of work — and you’ve done a lot more work than I have on this — but one of the things that I’ve observed in leaders is beyond a certain level of IQ. Leadership is not defined by IQ, it’s defined by emotional intelligence. And at a certain level of IQ, I actually think it’s inverse, so if your IQ is so high that you won’t listen to anyone else, you’re not going to be a very good leader. And so it can actually work against you.

Goleman: Although, I would say it may not be your actual IQ. It sounds like you’re talking about a narcissistic leader.

George: Exactly. That’s a person who has to be the smartest person in the room, no matter what the question is, what the field is, or whether it’s his area of expertise or not.

But to me, the essence of emotional intelligence is self-awareness. How can I have great relationships with other people if I don’t know who I am? And that is the key factor of why people are successful in leadership. They may achieve, they may get to this point, but they may fail too. Better to fail early than to fail when you get the big responsibility.

What I’ve been wrestling with is how do you gain self-awareness? I feel that you have to have real-world experience. I think you have to have a way to process experiences internally. Call it reflection, introspection. I have to meditate regularly. Some people like to pray. Some people have an intimate person, a spouse, or someone with whom the can share everything. You have to have some way to process that experience. Just having the experience doesn’t do it, because you’ll repeat the same mistakes and you just find the mistakes get bigger and bigger. I also think you need to have a way to process it through feedback — honest feedback with other people that you trust, not feedback from people you don’t trust. Having a group of people with whom you can share on an intimate level, not at a superficial level. So many of our societal interactions are superficial today. They don’t allow us to be truly authentic.

From The Executive Edge: An Insider’s Guide to Outstanding Leadership. Copyright 2015 More Than Sound. Reprinted with permission from More Than Sound.

Total Picture: Bill George. Discover Your True North

From Total Picture, Posted September 22, 2015.

 

Don’t expect the same Q&A with Bill George on other podcast interviews. We don’t go by the talking points provided by the publisher. True North, originally based on first-person interviews with 125 leaders, became a must-read business classic when it was first introduced in 2007. Today, authenticity has become a key issue in the C-Suite, boardroom, in HR and recruiting initiatives, corporate communications, marketing campaigns, and of course, politics.

In his substantive follow up to True North – Discover Your True North: Becoming An Authentic Leader, Bill George, former Medtronic chairman and CEO, and senior Fellow at the Harvard Business School, Introduces 47 additional interviews with leaders who represent the diversity of a new generation.

Welcome to a Leadership Channel podcast on TotalPicture, this is Peter Clayton. Today, I’m pleased to welcome Bill George to the program.

Today’s feature interview with Bill George is brought to you by RecruitiFi, a unique new category of recruiting that connects top recruiters with companies looking to hire exceptional talent. Use this link and receive a special discount offer on your first JobCast.

I also want to give a shout-out to our friend and frequent contributor to TotalPicture David Dalka, who was instrumental in organizing today’s interview, research and development of our talking points. David was scheduled to participate in our discussion with Bill, but couldn’t, due to technical issues with his Skype connection.

Questions Peter Clayton asks Bill George in this podcast:

I’ve had a number of retired and former CEOs tell me what they miss the most is the corporate jet. What do you miss the most?

Although Medtronic has a diverse board of directors (good for them)! What did you learn from the transition as CEO to former CEO? Going from 110% to 0%

You are on a number of important boards, including Mayo Clinic and Goldman Sachs. Joining a board of directors is not what it was 20 years ago. What have you learned from your participation in a number of high-profile boards?

What advice do you have for those seeking, or considering board membership?

Speaking about 20 years ago… it’s a different world today. Corporate PR departments no longer control the message: Facebook, Twitter, Glassdoor and others do. What recommendations do you have for leaders regarding social media – and how they consistently deliver their “True North” in such a volatile 24/7 environment?

M&A deal are back in fashion. However, corporate cultures often clash. – (Say BofA and ML) What advice to you have for those in management and leadership positions caught in a merger? How can True North help determine outcomes?

Bill George is Senior Fellow at the Harvard Business School and former chairman and CEO of Medtronic, the world’s leading medical technology company. Under his leadership, Medtronic’s market capitalization grew from $1.1 billion to $60 billion, averaging 35 percent a year. He is the author of the best-selling Authentic Leadership and a board member of Goldman Sachs, Exxon, and the Mayo Clinic. George has been recognized as “Executive of the Year” by the Academy of Management, “Director of the Year” by the National Association of Corporate Directors, and received the prestigious Bower Award for Business Leadership – given annually to the nation’s top business leader.

 

Link to Podcast HERE.

Star Tribune: Former Medtronic CEO Urges Students to Find Their ‘True North’

From Star Tribune, posted September 17, 2015

Former Medtronic CEO Bill George told students at Minnetonka High School on Thursday to find out who they really are and to stay true to that through the travails of life.

Everyone’s purpose takes some digging to pinpoint, he said, and he believes it is crucial for people to find their own “true north.”

George’s message went beyond life-coaching, touching on a tragedy still fresh in the community.

“Life is very precious,” he said.

George, 73, was referring to the loss of his mother and fiancée early in his life, but also a tragedy that was close to home for the audience. The school is still wrestling with the Short family murder-suicide last week. The children, Cole, who was 17, Madison, who was 15, and Brooklyn, who was 14, had all attended Minnetonka High School.

George said these tragedies often serve as a reminder of what he views as a major purpose in his life: making a difference.

George, who is now a professor of management practice at Harvard Business School, has written books on this subject.

Minnetonka High School students in a professional studies program are studying one of his books, “Discover Your True North,” which focuses on leadership and ethics in business.

The program, called VANTAGE, is a yearlong course for juniors and seniors where students learn about business through projects, case studies and community mentorships.

George didn’t always know his “true north.” He’d thought he was on the path to becoming CEO at Honeywell, but realized he had lost his purpose. So George turned to Medtronic and immediately felt at home there, calling it the best time of his professional life.

“Stay on track,” he said to the crowd. “Know who you are.”

That message of experimenting before finding a perfect fit left an impact on students in the audience who are deciding on college and career options.

“I found it to be really insightful that the best way to find where you want to be is just to try it out,” said Smetana Larson, a senior in the VANTAGE program.

Huffington Post: Self Awareness: Key to Sustainable Leadership

From Huffington Post, posted September 9, 2015

In 2007, Arianna Huffington’s career was on a rapid upward trajectory. After building the Huffington Post as the leading online global newspaper, Time chose her as one of the world’s 100 Most Influential People.

Then she had a wake-up call. One day she found herself lying on the floor of her home office in a pool of blood. She had collapsed from exhaustion.

The gravity of her collapse forced Huffington to confront her lifestyle. As she explained, “I was working 18 hours a day, seven days a week. By traditional measures of money and power, I was highly successful, but by any sane definition I was not living a successful life. Something had to change radically.”

For Huffington, this moment of crisis pushed her to reflect on her life. As her self-awareness deepened, she made important life changes: focusing on her personal health, meditating daily and committing to time for herself.

The charge, “Know thyself,” is centuries old, but for today’s leaders, it has never been more important. Research from psychologist Daniel Goleman shows that self-awareness is crucial for all levels of success. As he outlines in Emotional Intelligence, above an IQ of 120, EQ (Emotional Intelligence) becomes the more important predictor of successful leaders. Developing self-awareness is the first step to develop your EQ.

My grandfather — an old Dutchman who came to America in 1876 — had a worn wooden plaque that read, “We grow too soon old, and too late wise.” As a young man, I rejected this notion as I lacked the self-awareness to understand my limitations, blind spots, and inexperience. Over the years, its truth has come back to me many times.

When True North was published in 2007, we understood the importance of self-awareness, but were not clear about how to improve our awareness. As demonstrated in my follow-on book, Discover Your True North, we have learned a great deal since then about how to gain self-awareness.

Crises like Huffington’s can force you to reassess your life to gain self-awareness and discover your True North. But you can avoid these crises by developing self-awareness now. After in-depth interviews with 170 world leaders and classroom discussions with 6,000 executives and MBAs in Authentic Leadership Development (ALD) at Harvard Business School, we’ve learned three essential steps to building your self-awareness:

  1. Probing deeply into your life story and framing your crucible
  2. Creating a daily practice of introspection and reflection
  3. Receiving intimate feedback from people you trust

Understanding your life story and framing your crucible

Your journey to self-awareness begins with understanding your life story and framing your crucibles. All of us face times of crisis, pain, disappointment, or rejection during our lives. Many respond by developing false selves and building protective layers to protect themselves from pain or facing their reality. In doing so, they grow farther from their true selves and building on their life stories.

Reflecting on the life you’ve lived helps you to discover your True North – the beliefs, values and principles that are most important to you. Discover Your True North asks readers to consider these questions:

  • Looking at your early life story, what people, events, and experiences have had the greatest impact in shaping the person you have become?
  • In which experiences did you find the greatest passion for leading?
  • How do you frame your crucibles and setbacks in your life?

These questions are starting points to become aware. As you understand your life story, the reasons for your current actions become clear. Digging into your crucible is especially important: do you see yourself as a victim? do you repress the experience? Or can you reframe hardship to help find your deeper values? 

Create a daily habit of self-reflection

Next, you should develop a daily practice of setting aside at least twenty minutes to reflect on your life. This practice enables you to focus on the important things in your life, not just the immediate. Reflection takes many forms. Some keep a journal, some pray, and others take a long walk or jog. Personally, I use daily meditation as my mindful habit. By centering into myself, I am able to focus my attention on what’s really important, and develop an inner sense of well-being.

Seek Honest Feedback
Nearly all of us have traits, habits, and tendencies that others see in us, but we are unable to see in ourselves. We call these “blind spots.” Do you see yourself as others see you? If not, your blind spots can be addressed by receiving honest feedback from people you trust.

To obtain honest feedback, you must surround yourself with truth tellers. Then you must continuously others for feedback. As you do, you’ll become more self-aware.

Although a traumatic event can cause you to become self-aware, my advice is don’t wait until that happens — start developing your self-awareness now. As you follow these three practices, you will find you are more comfortable being open, transparent, and even vulnerable. As you do, you will become a more authentic leader.

Conant Leadership: 2 New Books On Our Desk That Can Help You Live and Lead Better

From ConantLeadership.com, posted September 4, 2015

At ConantLeadership we are continually pursuing the insights of smart leaders and thinkers who can help us improve our craft. An important part of the work of leadership is perpetual learning and growth and one of the best ways to grow is to read books written by our business and leadership contemporaries. Thankfully, there are a lot of wonderful books to celebrate and there are more and more worthwhile books being written every day. Here are two in particular, that recently crossed our desks, that can add tremendous value to your life and leadership.

Discover Your True North: Expanded and Updated Edition | By Bill George

If you have not yet read Bill George’s seminal works, True North, and Authentic Leadership, the recent release of this expanded and updated edition of True North is your opportunity to read one of the most helpful and insightful books for leaders in the 21st century. Why is this book so impactful? It will help you make better decisions and deal more productively with adversity. As leaders, as we navigate the stormy seas of decision making, we will increasingly face more challenging situations and more morally dubious conundrums. Without a strong sense of who we are and what we believe, making these decisions while remaining true to ourselves is very difficult. George’s text is the preeminent guidebook for connecting with our true selves, learning how to lead authentically, and relying on our True North to guide us in all of our pursuits. What is our True North?

In George’s words:

True North is your orienting point — your fixed point in a spinning world — that helps you stay on track as a leader. It is derived from your most deeply held beliefs, your values, and the principles you lead by. It is your internal compass, unique to you, that represents who you are at your deepest level. Just as a compass needle points toward a magnetic pole, your True North pulls you toward the purpose of your leadership. When you follow your internal compass, your leadership will be authentic, and people will naturally want to associate with you.

As George reminds readers throughout the book, discovering our True North is not easy — it requires ongoing and steadfast commitment. But the hard work is worth it because, “as long as you are true to who you are, you can cope with the most difficult circumstances life presents.” This newest edition guides you through the journey of discovering your True North while providing over 100 real-world examples of authentic leaders. And the book offers interactive exercises at the end of each chapter that will challenge you to think about provocative questions to enhance your reading and comprehension. Definitely a must-read.

The Genius of Opposites: How Introverts and Extroverts Achieve Extraordinary Results Together | By Jennifer Kahnweiler

Lennon and McCartney. Jobs and Wozniak. Sandberg and Zuckerberg. We’re familiar with these famous duos and the extraordinary things they accomplished together. But what’s the secret to their success? What allowed them to accomplish great feats together that they may not have been able to achieve apart? In her new book, expert on introverted leadership, Jennifer, explains the “secret sauce” to these dynamic partnerships. Opposites — like introverts and extroverts — can create magic together by leveraging the unique strength that their differences create. But only if they are armed with the tools to use their partnership productively and tap into the “genius” of their oppositional natures.

So how can we tap into the genius of our opposites to achieve success? The key, says Kahnweiler, “is to remember that these relationships are most successful when opposites stop focusing on their differences and use approaches that move them towards results.” Easier said than done. But she supports this big idea with an actionable process for all introverts to work better with their extroverted counterpoints, and vice-versa. Essentially, people in strong extrovert-introvert partnerships must:

  • Accept their opposite’s differences. Don’t try to change them
  • View disagreements as opportunities to arrive at better outcomes.
  • Use the other person’s strengths — and share the credit.
  • Treat each other with respect.
  • Know that each party can’t offer everything; work in harmony to provide their best selves to others.

The book provides plenty of interesting examples and tools to bring the insights to life. Whether you are struggling with a burgeoning partnership or you are just trying to better connect with and understand the many people you encounter in your workplace or your community — Kahnweiler’s practical five-step process can help you tap into the genius you might be missing. 

Monster.com: Authentic Leadership: An Interview with Bill George

From Hiring.Monster.com, posted September 3, 2015

Shortly after its publication in 2007, Bill George’s renowned book True North became a go-to guide on leadership at a time of financial turmoil and misuse of power. 

Today, a newly expanded and updated edition of the book comes at a time when leaders face increasing pressures and when public trust in leadership is at one of its worst lows. 

We spoke with Bill George about leadership and about the second edition of the book called Discover Your True North. He is a senior fellow at the Harvard Business School and former chairman and CEO of Medtronic. Under his leadership, the company’s market capitalization grew from $1.1 billion to $60 billion.

Monster: Are today’s leaders facing significantly different challenges than they did a decade ago when you first wrote True North?

Bill George: Definitely I think they are. Back in the ’90s and early 2000s, leaders were revered and today I think everyone is somewhat skeptical and cynical about our leaders, and that’s because so many leaders in my generation dropped the ball and caused great harm first in the corporate governance crisis in the early 2000s and then in the financial crisis of 2008-09. 

I’m convinced that the root cause of those problems was not corporate governance or credit default swaps or subprime mortgages but failed leadership.

I am very hopeful about this generation of leaders. I think we’re seeing very, very positive signs that they have learned a lesson from their predecessors and we have an outstanding group of new leaders coming up from the CEOs that have been elected in the last 7-8 years to the young leaders, the Millennials, taking on much more responsibility these days.

Monster: The new edition of the book features 47 new interviews with leaders. What stands out about them?

Bill George: In this new set, we tried to get a much more global set of leaders, much more diverse and spread across all age ranges.

For example Indra Nooyi, who is the chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, is an amazing, remarkable leader. Born in India, educated in India, she came to the United States, completed her education and eventually became head of PepsiCo.

Indra Nooyi

She took a fierce challenge from the outside world because she said that she wanted to create healthy foods and beverages in addition to PepsiCo’s traditional line.

The stock market was critical, various consumers were critical. She even endured a withering challenge from an activist, but she stayed the course throughout this period. Now, all the things she predicted are coming to pass. 

Another person I found really interesting in the interviews is Kenneth Frazier. Ken is now the head of Merck, the world’s leading pharmaceutical research company, 58 years old. 

The interesting thing about Ken is his grandfather was a slave. He was born before 1863, so you can see a lot of years have transpired. Ken is still carrying out the mission and the narrative started by his grandfather, which is really remarkable, to be your own person and to try to use your life to make a difference in the world, carried through his father, who never professionally went above the level of janitor but had enormous influence on Ken. 

Ken’s mother died when he was 12. Throughout his life, he has taken the wisdom of his father and grandfather and tried to carry that now into creating life-saving drugs for people. As he says, they may not come to pass for 10 years, 20 years, but they’ll have huge impact on human health for the next 50 years.

Kenneth Frazier

Those are just two examples of quite diverse leaders with remarkable life stories.

Monster:  So much of the book was really an eye-opener to me in the sense that true authentic leadership is defined by a capacity to look inward, understand your life story, understand what you call your crucibles, your challenges, and then figure out what are the values that come out of that.

Bill George: That’s the big change. I think back in the 20th century, we thought leadership was something that went from the outside in. We could patch it on with improving your leadership style, how you dressed, how you appeared, how you communicated outwardly. Honestly, I think those things are the outward manifestation of who you are as a person, but a lot of times we don’t understand ourselves, we don’t know what really motivates us.

I think it’s knowing who you are that enables us to be the person we were meant to be, not to try to emulate some other leader, but to be ourselves, that unique person, and the toughest part is to stay on course of our true north, not lose sight of what we’re called to do.

Monster: Are there instances where people do the work of finding or understanding what is their true north and the realization that this position that I’m in isn’t really aligning with what is my true north?

Bill George: Absolutely. A lot of us face that at one point in time. I faced that personally in the middle of my career. I thought I was on route to being CEO of Honeywell, and I may have been, but I was getting pulled off course. I was chasing the CEO title more than being the value-centered leader I was self-called to be. I was blinded by the big company idea and not seeing, hey, this is where I should be, with the kind of mission I can really resonate with.

Monster: There’s a wonderful expression that is in the business vernacular now, which is, “Vulnerability is power.” 

Bill George: This is a whole new idea. For many years of my life I was afraid to be vulnerable for fear you’d think I was weak. I think that was the norm when I was coming up. 

I got the idea originally from a man named John Hope Bryant. John is one of the most interesting people I interviewed. John was actually a homeless man, and he came to my class at Harvard, believe it or not, a class for young global leaders of the world economic forum. He was selected to this because of the work he did with the poor and creating financial literacy and did some remarkable work, raised $500 million to help the poor overcome financial illiteracy.

John Hope Bryant

John has used this phrase, and he wrote a book and I adopted it and used it in the classroom and found it had great resonance with people. If they could be willing to be vulnerable, they felt so much more comfortable because they could be who they were. 

I think it is a new idea and one of the most powerful ideas in the book.

Monster: Do authentic leaders view their workforce and their position in the organization in a significantly different way than, say, someone who was a CEO 20-30 years ago?

Bill George: I think they definitely do. Before, we were so hierarchic and everything was honestly very bureaucratic. We were trying to manage the whole company by systems and procedures. Now, with humanity, today’s great leaders are really engaged with the people that work for them. 

Leaders like Howard Schultz go to two dozen Starbucks stores a week just to hang out and see what’s going on and watch the relationship between the barista and the customers, because he knows that’s the essence of what Starbucks does.

Monster: You mentioned Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz. I was really touched by the realization that he had after many years of having a tense relationship with his father. 

After his father’s death, Schultz realized that his father never had the opportunity to find meaningful work. It seemed to me that then impacted Howard to go on and create a company culture that was really about helping workers find meaningful work.

Bill George: Exactly. I think Howard has done a brilliant job of that. He’s living his life story. There is a congruence for him of what it was like to grow up in the Bayview Housing Projects where he had nothing and there was a lot of crime and drugs and poverty around him and seeing his father lose 30 jobs, saying, “I don’t want that. I want to create great jobs for people.” People at Starbucks who work there really resonate with that. As a customer, you feel that.

Monster: I’m wondering, too, about applying these principles to leaders of smaller companies or companies that are growing – the start-ups. There’s a lot of energy in that space, and I would think it’s just as applicable for those people as well.

Bill George: Absolutely. One of the reasons I wrote the book is I believe there’s no greater vehicle for impacting society than corporations in a free enterprise system properly run. It can go off the rails if it gets too extreme, as well as non-profits, by the way.

I think leaders have such impact. Whether it’s a small business, it’s a mid-size business or startup, if they have a sense of mission, they’re going to attract people to their cause and to want to come there both as employees and as customers. 

Good decisions are made collectively by people with diverse life experiences. If we just have someone at the top making all the decisions like command general, it’s not going to work. 

Monster: That leads into this idea that’s in the book which I thought was very powerful, the importance of mentoring, both leaders who mentor others in the organization as well as the leaders having a mentor. 

Bill George: All relationships are a two-way street, including mentoring. It’s got to be both ways. I think that’s really what mentoring is all about. I recommend to senior people now, CEOs, you need to have some young mentees. 

I always had that when I was at Medtronic. I had young mentees in as running partners. I couldn’t understand how the company felt to somebody new coming in, so I had them as mentees and I would just ask them, “What’s it like to be a new employee or a younger employee of this company?” I wanted to see if there were rose-colored glasses as I saw it, but that wasn’t necessarily the way they saw it, so this became very, very important to me to do the job and trying to lead an organization of 30,000 people.

Monster: Would we be going too far to recommend that employers themselves obviously work to find their true north and encourage all of their employees, give them the means to find their true north, regardless of their role in the organization or their level in the organization?

Bill George: Absolutely not. I think we all have to do that, because if we don’t have a sense of where we’re going, why would I follow you? You don’t know what your true north is, why would I follow you? 

Monster: How does one start this discovery process? How do you start this journey to becoming an authentic leader?

Bill George: Everything starts with your life story. We go out and we explore who we are as people. I think you have to do two things. You have to write it down and really think through who are the people that influenced me? What was the experience I have? Then get into the difficult times. I think you can’t ignore the difficult times, the crucibles, as I call them. Then as you’re telling your story to another person, actually you reframe it. 

You asked earlier about Howard Schultz reframing his image of his father not as a failure but as a guy who never had a shot, never had a chance. Instead of being so hard on his father as he was earlier in life, he reframed it as his father was in a society that didn’t give people a chance, so Howard wanted to change that. His passion came out of that, and we find your passion comes out of your life story. 

Monster: It goes back to that wonderful line in the book that really stood out to me, and that is, “The hardest person you will ever have to lead is yourself.”

Bill George: Yes. I created that phrase and at first, people thought, this is odd. What are you talking about? Leadership is not about leading yourself, it’s about leading other people.

In my study of leaders when I came to Harvard Business School 12 years ago, what I found in studying hundreds and hundreds of leaders, is the ones who fail all failed to lead themselves. It wasn’t that they weren’t smart enough. It wasn’t they couldn’t lead other people. It’s that they got off track. They lost sight of their true north and they got their ego tied up, they couldn’t deal with the possibility of failure, all the things we’ve been talking about. 

We found that you had to do that first, then you become a great leader of other people, because people can’t ask more of you than who you are as a person. They can’t ask you to be a façade or something else, nor should you let them. You just have to be who you are, but that comes from the capacity to lead yourself.