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Discover Your True North, Expanded and Updated Edition

Bill George, David Gergen (Foreword by)
ISBN: 978-1-119-08294-1
320 pages
August 2015, Jossey-Bass
Discover Your True North, Expanded and Updated Edition (1119082943) cover image


The Leadership Classic, Discover Your True North, expanded for today's leaders

Discover Your True North is the best-selling leadership classic that enables you to become an authentic leader by discovering your True North. Originally based on first-person interviews with 125 leaders, this book instantly became a must-read business classic when it was introduced in 2007. Now expanded and updated to introduce 48 new leaders and new learning about authentic global leaders, this revisited classic includes more diverse, global, and contemporary leaders of all ages. New case studies include Warren Buffett, Indra Nooyi, Arianna Huffington, Jack Ma, Paul Polman, Mike Bloomberg, Mark Zuckerberg, and many others. Alongside these studies, former Medtronic CEO Bill George continues to share his personal stories and his wisdom by describing how you can become the leader you want to be, with helpful exercises included throughout the book.

Being a leader is about much more than title and management skills—it's fundamentally a question of who we are as human beings. Discover Your True North offers a concrete and comprehensive program for becoming an authentic leader, and shows how to chart your path to leadership success.

Once you discover the purpose of your leadership, you'll find the true leader inside you. This book shows you how to use your natural leadership abilities to inspire and empower others to excellence in today's complex global world. Discover Your True North enables you to become the leader you were born to be, and stay on track of your True North.

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Table of Contents

Preface The Remarkable Legacy of Warren Bennis vii

Foreword David Gergen xi

Introduction 1

Part One: Your Journey to Leadership 13

1. Your Life Story 15

Lead Story: Howard Schultz, Chair and CEO of Starbucks

2. Losing Your Way 41

Lead Story: Rajat Gupta, Worldwide Managing Director of McKinsey

3. Crucibles 57

Lead Story: Daniel Vasella, Chair and CEO of Novartis

Part Two: Developing as an Authentic Leader 77

4. Self-Awareness 79

Lead Story: Arianna Huffington, Founder of The Huffington Post

5. Values 103

Lead Story: David Gergen, Harvard Professor and Presidential Advisor

6. Sweet Spot 123

Lead Story: Warren Buffett, Founder and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway

7. Support Team 142

Lead Story: Tad Piper, Chair and CEO of Piper Jaffray

8. Integrated Life 159

Lead Story: John Donahoe, CEO of eBay

Part Three: Your True North Meets the World 179

9. I to We 181

Lead Story: Nelson Mandela, President of South Africa

10. Purpose 199

Lead Story: Ken Frazier, Chair and CEO of Merck

11. Empowerment 219

Lead Story: Anne Mulcahy, Chair and CEO of Xerox

12. Global Leadership 243

Lead Story: Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever

Afterword Stakeholders in Society 265

Lead Story: Jack Ma, Founder of Alibaba

New Leaders Featured in Discover Your True North 275

Participants from the Original Research for True North 277

Where Are They Now? 279

References 287

About the Author 293

Acknowledgments 295

Index 297

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Author Information

BILL GEORGE, former CEO of Medtronic, is a Senior Fellow at Harvard Business School (HBS), where he teaches leadership in executive education programs. He was professor of management practice from 2004 to 2014. He is the author of four bestselling books: Authentic Leadership, True North, Finding Your True North, and 7 Lessons for Leading in Crisis, and coauthor of True North Groups with Doug Baker. He serves on the boards of Goldman Sachs, Mayo Clinic, and World Economic Forum, and has served on the board of ExxonMobil, Novartis, and Target.

Start your own journey to discover your True North at www.DiscoverYourTrueNorth.org.

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Press Release

August 18, 2015
Discover Your True North By Becoming An Authentic Leader

In his substantive follow-up to True North, DISCOVER YOUR TRUE NORTH: Becoming An Authentic Leader (ISBN: 978-1119082941; Wiley; August 17),Senior Fellow at the Harvard Business School and former Medtronic chairman and CEO Bill George shares what he has learned about authentic leadership over the past decade to address the challenges of today’s generation of leaders.

 Hailed by The New York Times as “one of the most important books on leadership in years,” the original edition of True North was based on the largest in-depth study ever undertaken on how business leaders develop with first-person interviews with 125 of our best known leaders. Soon after, it became a cultural touchstone of the financial crisis that gave leaders the internal compass they needed to stay on course as they watched so many other leaders derail in the news. As a result, authenticity has become the gold standard for today’s leaders.

 In what David Gergen calls “his best book,” Georgeintroduces 47 additional interviews with leaders who represent the new diversity of the new generation—among them Alibaba’s Jack Ma, the Huffington Post’s Arianna Huffington, Unilever’s Paul Polman, PepsiCo’s Indra Nooyi, Merck’s Ken Frazier, and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. With refreshing honesty and personal introspection, you’ll learn from their own words how they discovered their True North, developed as authentic leaders, sharpened their global vision and held steady against challenges throughout their lifetimes. 

 On the other hand, you’ll also find stories of leaders who lost their way including Rajat Gupta, who went from head of McKinsey to prison, bicycling champion Lance Armstrong, whose obsession with winning overrode his ethics, and Richard Fuld, whose unwillingness to face mistakes led to the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and triggered the 2008 global financial crisis.

 George hails the high caliber of corporate leaders today, noting that today’s leaders are far less hierarchical, more empowering, more global, and more in tune with public issues. “Today’s leaders have to cope with vastly increased pressures for short-term results and far greater legal and regulatory compliance,” writes George, “all of which can pull them off the course of their True North.”

 Discover Your True North addresses these modern challenges with new insights about the leadership capabilities needed today including “global intelligence,” the importance of emotional intelligence, building diverse leadership teams, and empowering people to create value for all stakeholders. At a time when trust in leadership remains at a low point, Discover Your True North will guide a fresh generation of leaders through today’s challenges with self- awareness at the center of their compass, surrounded by the four points that provide direction:  their values, their sweet spot, their support team, and their integrated life.

 Bill George’s message is more important today than ever: that being a leader is about much more than a title and management skills—it's fundamentally a question of who we are as human beings.


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