True North Groups Reviews

Praise for True North Groups

"In True North Groups, Bill and Doug provide an extremely insightful and practical roadmap for how you can create your own ecosystem for mutual support, feedback, development and, ultimately, lifelong learning collaborators."
Peter Sims, author of Little Bets

“Creating an intimate community in an impersonal world helps accomplished and inspiring leaders chart their course and stay on it. In True North Groups, Bill George and Doug Baker share enduring lessons that have guided them in their stellar areas and fulfilling lives.”
Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Ernest L. Arbuckle Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School, and author of Confidence and SuperCorp

“The epidemic of social isolation is a grave challenge because research shows close friendships lengthen and enrich our lives and those around us. This book describes an amazing antidote: True North Groups. If you apply its lessons, your life is likely to be changed for the better, and you'll probably live longer. Not many books can promise that!”
Robert Putnam, Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School; coauthor of American Grace; and author of Bowling Alone

“Forming True North Groups is an integral part of the Unilever Leadership Development Programme to prepare our future leaders for an increasingly volatile and uncertain world where the only true differentiation is the quality of leadership of all.”
Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever

“Bill George and Doug Baker have crafted an invaluable guide to finding our inner compass. True North Groups draws a compelling map for self-discovery through telling our stories to a trusted group. When we need authentic leaders more than ever, this book—and the groups it describes—should be part of every leader’s development.”
Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence

“This book fills a leadership gap across the life span: the essential anchor of the small support group of peers. The lives of Bill George and Doug Baker bespeak a remarkable convergence of personal growth and professional excellence. They bring lifetimes of wisdom to this practical manual on creating and sustaining small groups. It will surely become a staple for equipping the authentic leaders the 21st century demands.”
Krista Tippett, host of On Being, American Public Media

Blog Critics

By:Dr. Joseph S. Maresca

True North Groups: A Powerful Path to Personal and Leadership Development by Bill George and Doug Baker is about forming cohesive small groups to support us during challenging times. Small group membership requires a willingness to challenge life's assumptions, comfort with self-reflection, the ability to listen and the sustained ability to commit time to a common effort. Ideal candidates have a sense of humor about life, they like small group interaction and are good listeners, as well as facilitators.

Individual small groups possess common norms. Examples of these
norms are openness, trust, respecting uniqueness, empathy, withholding judgment, providing constructive suggestions and attendance. Barriers to group cohesiveness are lack of member commitment, absence of suitable boundaries, dominating behaviors,lack of sharing and the violation of group normative values.

High performing groups usually have good attendance, high levels of trust, adherence to explicit norms, meaningful discussion topics, regular retreats or meetings and a periodic group assessment. On occasion, groups struggle for reform for a variety of reasons. i.e. new blood is needed, people quit,the group segments into one or more splinter subgroups.

Early in the life of a True North Group, members may meet to build intimacy and trust. Each may discuss early life experiences, obstacles in life, self-awareness issues, values, passions, motivations, talents and personal relationships.

Bill George and Doug Baker have established a True North Groups Institute to support individual True North Group efforts. Institute leaders are available to support facilitation of the formation of new True North Groups among individuals and within organizations of varying complexity. There is a help line support to enhance the effectiveness of existing groups. A registry exists for professional facilitators to assist in new group formation and performance. There is an extensive bibliography with authoritative references.

Overall, Bill George and Doug Baker have crafted a very useful book for conveying the essential elements of small group formation, as well as the practical implementation problems which need to be addressed at various juncture points where small groups meet and debate

Small group formation and interpersonal interaction are difficult hurdles for organizations to traverse. The guidelines in True North Groups make this process of group formation much easier with a step-by-step implementation scheme and a thorough delineation of classic pitfalls and coping strategies.


The methodologies explained in this book are suited ideally for new system projects in data processing organizations, as well as human resource efforts at encouraging small group formation in corporate organizations, as well as governmental organizations. The precepts in this book could be extremely helpful in crafting a budgetary framework for Congressional groups meeting later this year.


Professional negotiators could utilize the methodologies outlined to manage small group issues at the neighborhood or regional level in places like Afghanistan, Iraq and other areas around the globe.

Publishers Weekly

For years, Harvard Business School professor Bill George (True North) and corporate executive Doug Baker have been running True North groups. These groups help executives and leaders maintain their personal integrity and ethical compass by allowing them to periodically open up to fellow leaders in a safe environment. Participants share personal challenges, discuss strategies, and provide a support network for each other. Here, the authors provide a step-by-step guide for why one should start a True North group and how to do so. In addition, they discuss the importance of setting ground rules and norms, and offer suggestions for how to get through the bonding process during the first few meetings. This frank assessment of what their groups offer and how they must be structured lends the process credence, but readers who have never heard of True North groups will need to catch up very quickly to gain useful insights. Though it may be difficult for people who aren't business leaders to immediately see the value of the group, they will feel inspired once they do, and after they've bought into the True North message, they can use this helpful book to start their own