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Seven Lessons for Leading in Crisis

ISBN: 978-0-470-53187-7
160 pages
August 2009, Jossey-Bass
Seven Lessons for Leading in Crisis (0470531878) cover image


One of the country's most trusted leaders offers time-tested and real world advice for leading in economic hard times

From business giant Bill George, the acclaimed author of Wall Street Journal's bestseller True North, comes the just-in-time guide for anyone in a leadership position facing today's unprecedented economic challenges. The former CEO of Medtronic draws from his own in-the-trenches experience and lessons from leaders (representing an array of companies) who have weathered tough economic storms. With straight talk and clear directions, George shows leaders specifically what they must do to become strong leaders and survive any crisis. His seven lessons include: Face Reality, Starting with Yourself; Never Waste a Good Crisis; and Be Aggressive: This is Your Best Chance to Win in the Market. Seven Lesson for Leading in Crisis is a survival kit for anyone in a leadership position.

  • A concise handbook for applying proven leadership lessons in tough times
  • Written by Bill George one of America's most trusted business leaders and author of True North and Authentic Leadership
  • Offers realistic actions leaders can take to put their companies on the right long-term path

Seven Lesson for Leading in Crisis gives leaders a solid strategy for staying the course.

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Table of Contents

Foreword (Warren Bennis).

Introduction The Ultimate Test of Your Leadership.

Lesson #1 Face Reality, Starting with Yourself.

Lesson #2 Don't be Atlas, Get the World Off Your Shoulders.

Lesson #3 Dig Deep for the Root Cause.

Lesson #4 Get Ready for the Long Haul.

Lesson #5 Never Waste a Good Crisis.

Lesson #6 You're in the Spotlight: Don't Lose Track of True North.

Lesson #7 Go on Offense, Focus on Winning.

Conclusion Crisis May Be Your Defining Moment.

Appendix Leaders Featured in 7 Lessons.


Further Study.


The Author.

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Press Release

August 12, 2009
7 Lessons for Leading In Crisis by Bill George with a Preface by Warren Bennis

Bill George’s reputation as a leadership guru has expanded exponentially with each of his bestselling books on the subject. One of the top professors on leadership at Harvard Business School, he turns his attention now to the timely topic of leading in a high-pressure, economically challenged business climate with 7 Lessons for Leading in Crisis (Published by Jossey-Bass, $19.95 hardcover, September 1, 2009). Here we have Bill George’s very personal voice sharing his thoughts and reflections based on his experiences and those of executives he knows well.

Bill encourages leaders at all levels to embrace the challenges of crises and turn them to your advantage, as he advises in lessons like “Never Waste a Good Crisis” and “Go on Offense; Focus on Winning Now.” George leads his reader through the seven lessons every business professional needs to learn in order to resolve problems, identify solutions and emerge from a crisis with a stronger, more successful strategy for success.

His book focuses on these seven lessons for leaders of all ages facing a crisis:

  • Lesson 1: Face Reality, Starting with Yourself
  • Lesson 2: Don’t be Atlas; Get the World off Your Shoulders
  • Lesson 3: Dig Deep for the Root Cause
  • Lesson 4: Get Ready for the Long Haul
  • Lesson 5: Never Waste a Good Crisis
  • Lesson 6: You’re in the Spotlight: Follow True North
  • Lesson 7: Go on Offense; Focus on Winning Now

Illustrated by specific, memorable examples of well-known business leaders, this new book helps us understand each lesson through the learning experiences of successful business leaders who faced crisis and came out the better for it.

For example, we learn:

  • From Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan CEO, the importance of open communication when he explains “If you have ten people around you and only one of them is telling you the truth, you have a real problem, because everyone has to do it.”
  • From PepsiCo’s CEO Indra Nooyi, the definition of a new breed of CEO for the 21st century; one who creates sustainable value and owes society a duty of care.
  • Another highlight is the story of JetBlue CEO David Needleman demonstrating that taking responsibility for corporate miss-steps can repair and even improve corporate reputation.
  • Most importantly, Bill George shares what he learned from his own business crises, first as a 27-year-old general manager launching the consumer microwave oven business, then in uncovering $450 million of losses in Honeywell’s aerospace business, and finally as CEO of Medtronic when the company overcame slowing revenues with a series of high-growth acquisitions.

Recent events on Wall Street and the unprecedented economic challenges facing us all in these tough times will make this book the talisman for all leaders in successfully overcoming crises large and small, and emerging as a winner. 7 Lessons for Leading in Crisis brings Bill George’s critical work on defining and encouraging authentic leaders to follow their True North when they face the ultimate test: how do you lead when faced with your defining moment?

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