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Bill George

Harvard Business School Professor, former Medtronic CEO

The Street: Are You For Real? Authenticity Is The New Leadership Gold Standard

From TheStreet, posted August 22, 2015

Technology is not the only thing in corporate America that has changed in the past decade. The concept of leadership has evolved as well, said Bill George, author of Discover Your True North. 

“Authenticity has become the gold standard for leadership,” said George. “When I first introduced this notion in 2003 it was a foreign idea.”

George is a senior fellow at the Harvard Business School and the former chairman and CEO of medical device maker MedtronicMedtronic’s market capitalization grew from $1.1 billion to $60 billion under George’s leadership, averaging 35% a year.  He is the author of the best-selling Authentic Leadership and a board member of Goldman Sachs, Exxon and the Mayo Clinic.

Discover Your True North is an expanded and updated edition of George’s 2007 bestseller True North. This latest version profiles 101 corporate leaders including Warren Buffett, Howard Schultz, Indra Nooyi, Jack Ma and Michael Bloomberg. It also delves into the stories of leaders who lost their moral compasses like McKinsey managing director turned insider trader Rajat Gupta.

“He was a guy that came up from nothing, orphaned as a child. I think he got too caught up in wanting financial security and unfortunately he got caught up with some bad people,” said George.

George said former Lehman Brothers CEO Dick Fuld’s downfall was due to his inability to listen when former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson was urging him to find capital or sell the investment bank, which ultimately filed for bankruptcy.

“You can’t be obstinate today. Things are moving too fast, changing too rapidly,” said George. “You need to listen to everyone around you.”

On the other hand, George lauded Berkshire Hathaway CEO Buffett and his leadership style, saying the Oracle of Omaha values integrity above all else.