Gather stories from 125 corporate leaders, reflect on the common themes, and the end product is a revealing, instructive, and inspirational book. Bill George is a professor at Harvard Business School, and former chair and CEO of Medtronics. He has spent his life exploring what it means to be an authentic leader and is clear that his faith helped shape his journey.
These leaders emphasize that the hardest moments in their lives opened them up to seeing things differently. They acknowledge their need for honest feedback.
The core message is: know how all of your life experiences shaped, and even blessed, you; then allow this self awareness to evolve into self acceptance. With that, our leadership motivation shifts from “I to We.” Our focus shifts from needing to be liked to creating an environment where all involved can thrive and we can focus on building support teams that help us reach our goals.
At the heart of this book are the frank, honest reflections by successful corporate leaders. (If nothing else, this book contains a year’s worth of sermon illustrations.) These leaders emphasize that the hardest moments in their lives opened them up to seeing things differently. They acknowledge their need for honest feedback, for “one of the most difficult things in becoming self aware is seeing ourselves as others see us.” (72) Verizon’s Judy Haberkorn emphasizes, “the best thing you can get in this world is honest feedback from someone who cares about your success and well being.” (77-78) Pastors, like corporate leaders, are tempted to surround themselves with people who think like them, and like them. Authentic leadership requires something more. The
exercises after each chapter provide ways to explore that “something more.”
True North reads easily. I found it to be part professional development, part devotional reading. It could be a tool for staff parish committees to evaluate and encourage church staff. Church councils could use True North to deepen their leadership skills. Mentoring groups could use this book gently to hold each other accountable.
True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership (John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2007) is by Bill George with Peter Sims. It is available through Amazon or Cokesbury.