True North shows how anyone who follows their internal compass can become an authentic leader. This leadership tour de force is based on research and first-person interviews with 125 of today s top leaders with some surprising results. In this important book, acclaimed former Medtronic CEO Bill George and coauthor Peter Sims share the wisdom of these outstanding leaders and describe how you can develop as an authentic leader. True North presents a concrete and comprehensive program for leadership success and shows how to create your own Personal Leadership Development Plan centered on five key areas:
- Knowing your authentic self
- Defining your values and leadership principles
- Understanding your motivations
- Building your support team
- Staying grounded by integrating all aspects of your life
True North offers an opportunity for anyone to transform their leadership path and become the authentic leader they were born to be.
Personal, original, and illuminating stories from Warren Bennis, Sir Adrian Cadbury, George Shultz (former U.S. secretary of state), Charles Schwab, John Whitehead (Cochairman, Goldman Sachs), Anne Mulcahy (CEO, Xerox), Howard Schultz (CEO, Starbucks), Dan Vasella (CEO, Novartis), John Brennan (Chairman, Vanguard), Carol Tome (CFO, Home Depot), Donna Dubinsky (CEO/cofounder, Palm), Alan Horn (President, Warner Brothers), Ann Moore (CEO, Time, Inc.) and many others illustrate the transitions that shape the type of leaders who will thrive in the 21st century.
Bill George (Cambridge, MA) has spent over 30 years in executive leadership positions at Litton, Honeywell, and Medtronic. As CEO of Medtronic, he built the company into the world s leading medical technology company as its market capitalization increased from $1.1 billion to $60 billion. Since 2004, he has been a professor at the Harvard Business School. His 2004 book Authentic Leadership (0-7879-7528-1) was a BusinessWeek bestseller. Peter Sims (San Francisco, CA) established Leadership Perspectives, a course on leadership development at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and cofounded the London office of Summit Partners, a leading investment firm.
Table of Contents:
Editor's Note (Warren Bennis).
Foreword (David Gergen).
Introduction: True North.
Part One: Leadership Is a Journey.
1. The Journey to Authentic Leadership.
2. Why Leaders Lose Their Way.
3. Transformation From I to "We."
Part Two: Discover Your Authentic Leadership.
4. Knowing Your Authentic Self.
5. Practicing Your Values and Principles.
6. What Motivates You to Be a Leader?
7. Building Your Support Team.
8. Staying Grounded: Integrating Your Life.
Part Three: Empowering People to Lead.
9. Leadership with Purpose and Passion.
10. Empowering People to Lead.
11. Honing Your Leadership Effectiveness.
Epilogue: The Fulfillment of Leadership.
A. Research Study on Development of Authentic Leaders.
B. Authentic Leaders Interviewed for True North.
C. Leadership Exercises for Each Chapter.
Read Excerpt: Chapter (PDF)Review:
When top executives sit down to write a book, the result is often a celebratory memoir or an upbeat treatise on how you can emulate their success. Bill George has chosen to produce neither, and readers are the luckier for it. Instead, the former Medtronic CEO and current Harvard Business School professor has teamed up with co-author Peter Sims to offer a practical, inspiring examination of the executive experience, True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership
. While the volume is a sequel to George's 2003 best-seller, Authentic Leadership
, it easily stands alone as a guide to locating what the authors call "the internal compass that guides you successfully through life."
At the heart of True North
is a series of interviews with 125 managers, from Novartis CEO Daniel Vasella to Palm co-founder Donna Dubinsky. George and Sims indulge in a few anecdotes that flatter their subjects. But they also get interviewees to talk about failures, emotional challenges, personal tragedies, regrets in short, life events that knocked them off typical career paths. Taken together, the stories illustrate True North
's thesis: that there is no single way to become an ideal leader. The volume is both memorable and perceptive.True North
has three parts. The first is an anecdote-rich section that describes what it means to be an "authentic leader" and examines how various people arrived at this status or lost their way. There's Kevin Sharer, who abandoned General Electric for MCI, only to find that he was miserable and that Jack Welch wouldn't take him back. ("Hey, Kevin, forget you ever worked here," Welch told him.) Sharer learned patience and humility and went on to become chairman of Amgen. The key experience for Novartis' Vasella, in contrast, came from childhood: He endured years of illness and learned the value of compassion in health care.
The book's second section, which focuses on the five key facets of a leadership plan, is its most useful. First comes "knowing your authentic self," i.e., learning to be self-aware. This proved difficult for David Pottruck, a former CEO of Charles Schwab who found that his long workdays and aggressiveness made colleagues resent and distrust him. His answer, on the job and in his third marriage, was to force himself to seek feedback on a regular basis. Next, after you attain a measure of self-awareness, you should focus on the values and principles that matter to you. David Gergen and Jon Huntsman, both of whom served in the Nixon White House and experienced the Watergate scandal up close, had to learn to draw ethical lines. Huntsman recalls that "an amoral atmosphere permeated the White House." The growing realization, highlighted by a request to entrap a politician, prompted him to leave.
A third step in the construction of a leadership plan is discovering what motivates you. The most successful leaders, the authors learn, rarely start out wanting to get rich. They are inspired to make a difference, to test their limits, to follow a passion. In many cases, they abandon secure posts for the unknown. Fourth in the authors' scheme is building a support team. Here, we read that many in Silicon Valley, including Palm's Dubinsky, were aided by Intuit Chairman Bill Campbell, whom George calls the "dean of mentoring." Howard Shultz of Starbucks found inspiration in management guru Warren Bennis. Finally, you should try to forge what George and Sims call "an integrated life" that augments work with such things as family, friends, community service, exercise, church, and whatever else matters in your life.True North
's last section deals with empowering the people around you. The authors ask leaders including many women (more than in any other part of the book) to talk about the higher calling of their work. Avon Products' Andrea Jung explains that "what we do is elevate women in the community," while Anne Mulcahy of Xerox talks about trying to motivate personnel as the company struggled to stave off bankruptcy. As elsewhere in the book, this is no victory lap. At one point, Mulcahy recounts pulling over on a highway after a tough day, saying to herself: "I don't know where to go. I don't want to go home. There's just no place to go."
Most readers will relate to at least some of the subjects' struggles, whether they involve watching a sibling die or fighting to keep ego from getting in the way of results. These people come across as fallible, emotional, and, yes, authentic. A series of exercises at the end of each chapter may help readers evaluate their priorities and practices. While True North
offers no simple answers, it provides plenty of fodder to help readers figure out for themselves how to become a leader. (Business Week
, March 12, 2007)
"Now comes a truly worthwhile look at leadership...this is one of the most important books on leadership in years." (International Herald Tribune, April 2007)
"In True North, Bill George once again provides a roadmap for leadership in the 21st Century. The future belongs to leaders who want to win, without ever losing track of their own values. We live in a day when the best people can work anywhere. They will follow only authenticity a person who leads with passion and purpose."
Jeff Immelt, CEO, General Electric
"True North is an awe-inspiring gift to the world. The 125 men and women whose leadership journeys are so beautifully rendered in this book show us that we can have enormous impact without compromising our values indeed, that we are more successful when we stay true to our ideals. Every aspiring leader (or leader who aspires to become even better) will draw strength and wisdom from this wonderful book."
Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business School professor and best-selling author of Confidence: How Winning Streaks & Losing Streaks Begin & End
"True North is about the power of authentic leadership. Great leaders are defined by a sense of passion and purpose and by a profound desire to make a difference. Anyone can find their own True North, if you care deeply and love what you do. This book is a wonderful roadmap for how to get started on the journey."
Andrea Jung, chairman and CEO, Avon Products, Inc.
"True North provides a new leadership paradigm and a window into the stories and approaches of dozens of our nation s best leaders. It is an inspirational, invaluable source of guidance for those who want to make a significant impact."
Wendy Kopp, president and founder of Teach for America
"True North reveals just how powerful authentic leadership can be and, best of all, how to achieve it."
is professor of management practice 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, Target, and Novartis. George has been recognized as Executive of the Year by the Academy of Management and "Director of the Year by the National Association of Corporate Directors, and one of Public Broadcasting s
Top 25 Leaders of the Past 25 Years.
Peter Sims established Leadership Perspectives, a class on leadership development at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and cofounded the London office of Summit Partners, a leading investment firm. He was also part of the Deloitte Touche Tomatsu Global Strategy Team and has contributed to numerous publications including the Harvard Business Review.