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Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value

ISBN: 978-0-7879-7249-3
240 pages
October 2003, Jossey-Bass
Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value (0787972495) cover image
In the wake of continuing corporate scandals there have been few, if any, CEOs that have stepped forward as models of "doing things right"—except the former chairman and CEO of Medtronic, Bill George. George has become the unofficial spokesperson for responsible leadership—in business, the media, and academia.

In Authentic Leadership Bill George makes the case that we do need new leaders, not just new laws, to bring us out of the current corporate crisis. He persuasively demonstrates that authentic leaders of mission-driven companies will create far greater shareholder value than financially oriented companies. During George's twelve-year leadership at Medtronic, the company's market capitalization soared from $1.1 billion to $460 billion, averaging 35% per year.

George candidly recounts many of the toughest challenges he encountered -- from ethical dilemmas and battles with the FDA to his own development as a leader. He shows how to develop the five essential dimensions of authentic leaders—purpose, values, heart, relationships, and self-discipline. Authentic Leadership offers inspiring lessons to all who want to lead with heart and with compassion for those they serve.

Bill George helps readers answer vital questions such as: What should I do when my personal values conflict with company business values? How do I make trade-offs between the needs of my customers, my employees, and my company's shareholders? Do I really want to devote my talents to business? Authentic Leadership provides a tested guide for character-based leaders and all those who have a stake in the integrity and success of our corporations.

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Foreword xv
Warren Bennis

Preface: A New Generation of Leaders xvii

Introduction: Where Have All the Leaders Gone? 1

Part One: Becoming an Authentic Leader

1. Leadership Is Authenticity, Not Style 11

2. The Transformation of Leaders 27

3. Leading a Balanced Life 45

Part Two: Building an Authentic Company

4. Missions Motivate, Dollars Don't 61

5. Values Don't Lie 71

6. It's the Customer, Stupid! 81

7. It's Not Just the CEO 91

8. Whose Bottom Line: Customers or Shareholders? 101

Part Three: In the Crucible of the Market

9. Seven Deadly Sins: Pitfalls to Growth 109

10. Overcoming Obstacles: Nothing Can Stand in Your Way 117

11. Ethical Dilemmas: When in Rome, Don’t Follow the Romans 127

12. Innovations from the Heart 133

13. Acquisitions Aren’t Just About Money 143

14. Shareholders Come Third 153

Part Four: Beyond the Bottom Line

15. Governance Is Governance 165

16. Sticking Your Neck Out 177

17. Preparing for Succession . . . and Moving On 187

Epilogue: If Not Me, Then Who? If Not Now, When? 197

Medtronic Financial Results 201

Suggested Reading 203

Acknowledgments 207

The Author 209

Index 211

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Bill George is former chairman and CEO of Medtronic, the world’s leading medical technology company. He is a board member of Goldman Sachs, Target, and Novartis and executive-in-residence at Yale. 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 one of BusinessWeek’s "Top 25 Managers." He has been widely quoted in the New York Times, Fortune, Face the Nation, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, and NPR’s All Things Considered. His Web site is www.authenticleaders.org.
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“…even sceptics will like the book’s balanced tone...” (Management Today, Feb. 2005)

George candidly recounts his experiences as chair and CEO of Medtronic, a medical technology producer, and makes a case that we need new, authentic business leaders. The five essential dimensions of "authentic" leaders are purpose, values, heart, relationships, and self-discipline. In the scorched, post-Enron corporate world, this motivational how-to will help developing business leaders find the path to personal and business success. (Best Business Books 2003, Library Journal, March 15, 2004)

George, a former Medtronic CEO, sets the tone early in his book: "Somewhere along the way we lost sight of the imperative of selecting leaders that create healthy corporations for the long term." It would be wonderful if George then provided readers hungry for change with a blueprint for how this could happen; alas, such is not the case. George's thesis - too many CEOs think only in the short term and of the stock price, eventually losing a company's focus in the hurtling pursuit of all Street validation - is not a bad one. His proposal: a call for "authentic leadership," that is, finding a leader who doesn't try to emulate the greats, because such copycatting will never result in authenticity or honest leadership. It all gets a bit fuzzy at times, and George (who BusinessWeek recognized as a top-25 manager in 1998) relies far too much on his experience at Medtronic, a medical technology producer. Although George's company seems a good example of what he's talking about (he once made headlines by boldly declaring "Shareholders come third," after customers and employees), there's not a rigor9ous enough attempt here to make that example universally applicable. Though superbly moral and inspiring, this volume is not as helpful as it could be. (Aug.)
Forecast: With appearances on Meet the Press and Talk of the Nation, George has a recognizable name in the media, and scheduled interviews on NPR and the Charlie Rose Show will only help with book sales. (Publishers Weekly, July 7, 2003)

"There is a great deal of valuable insight in Authentic Leadership. One can only wish that Mr. George had written it five years ago, before so many chief executives led their companies so badly astray." (New York Times, July 27, 2003)

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Q & A with the AuthorRead A Conversation with Bill George and get insight behind his best-selling book "Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value."
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