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Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value Paperback – August 11, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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 Wall 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 rigorous enough attempt here to make that example universally applicable. Though superbly moral and inspiring, this volume is not as helpful as it could be.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

“…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)

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (August 11, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0787975281
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787975289
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #74,908 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bill George is a respected Senior Fellow at Harvard Business School, where he has enjoyed teaching leadership in his practice management classes since 2004. He is the author of six bestselling books: Authentic Leadership, True North, Finding Your True North, 7 Lessons for Leading in Crisis, True North Groups, and Discover Your True North.

Bill is also the former CEO of Medtronic, a medical device manufacturer and leader in the fight for better global healthcare. During his tenure there, Bill practiced what he preaches; when he became CEO in 1991, he pledged to fill the role for only ten years, following his belief that diversification of a company's leadership is the best way to ensure its future success. As he'd promised, Bill resigned as board chair of Medtronic in 2002.

Earlier in his career, Bill was a senior executive with Honeywell and Litton Industries and served in the U.S. Department of Defense. He has served on the boards of Novartis and Target Corporation, and now serves as director of ExxonMobil, Goldman Sachs, and the Mayo Clinic. He is also a trustee of the World Economic Forum USA and Guthrie Theater and a former Trustee of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Bill makes frequent appearances on television and radio, and his articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Businessweek, Fortune, Harvard Business Review, and many other publications. He has also garnered many public accolades in his career, including being named one of the "Top 25 Business Leaders of the Past 25 Years" by PBS; "Executive of the Year-2001″ by the Academy of Management; "Director of the Year-2001-02″ by the National Association of Corporate Directors; and the 2014 Bower Award for Business Leadership from the Franklin Institute.

Bill and his wife Penny live in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

For move information about Bill and projects he is working on follow him on Twitter (@bill_george), Facebook (www.facebook.com/billgeorgetruenorth), and LinkedIn.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Don Blohowiak, PhD on September 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Part memoir, part social commentary, part company case study, "Authentic Leadership" is Bill George's wide angle take on, and prescription for, the current state of corporate leadership.
George, lauded former CEO of the medical technology company Medtronic (who tells us that he fantasized about becoming a big company CEO when he was a *teenager*), clearly has stepped back and reflected on what's wrong with modern corporate leadership. With ample examples from his own career, anecdotes from apparent elbow-rubbing with other top execs, along with a smattering of bits from contemporary business books and articles, Bill George serves up many thought-provoking perspectives worth reading and heeding, especially for top leaders of enterprises--and those who earnestly aspire to such rare roles.
To his credit, George doesn't claim any breakthrough, cutting-edge management panaceas. The subtitle of the book discloses George's interest in solid if out of fashion ideas, proclaiming a focus on "Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value." And the book mostly makes good on that promise.
Sample Bill George observations:
--> "Many people in the business and academic communities believe that missions, values, visions, empowerment, and customer satisfaction represent the 'soft side' of business. They see expense reductions, layoffs, divestitures, creative financial management, and write-downs as the 'hard side.' In my career I have had to lay off thousands of workers, divest failing businesses, take major write-offs, and make large expense cuts. As painful as the consequences of actions like these are, the decision itself is usually obvious and the leader has but few options.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The day after I read this brilliant book, I read an article in the Dallas Morning News (Tuesday, September 30, 2003) in which sportswriter Gerry Fraley discusses the Minnesota Twins whose payroll is $110-million less than that of the Yankees. (The Twins won 90 games this past season and had just defeated the Yankees in the first game of the American league playoffs.) As Fraley notes, the Twins are renowned for how they treat their people. One of them is Al Newman who is currently struggling with a life-threatening illness. Here's a brief excerpt from Fraley's article:
"When beloved third-base coach Al Newman was hospitalized in Chicago this month because of a brain hemorrhage, general manager Terry Ryan remained with him for the entire 11-day stay. While Newman was hospitalized, the Twins clinched the Central title at home. Manager Ron Gardenshire stopped the postgame celebration, brought out Newman's uniform top and reminded the crowd of what he had done for the club."
If I understand George's key points in Authentic Leadership, both Ryan and Gardenshire offer examples of it. Specifically, they demonstrate "the highest integrity, [are] committed to building enduring organizations...who have a deep sense of purpose and are true to their core values...who have the courage to build their companies to meet the needs of all stakeholders, and who recognize the importance of their service to society." George addresses what he views as a need for new leadership when in fact the need is to increase the number of authentic leaders, not only in business but in government, religion, and the military. We need more men and women who "genuinely desire to serve others through their leadership...
Read more ›
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 3, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The day after I read this brilliant book, I read an article in the Dallas Morning News (Tuesday, September 30, 2003) in which sportswriter Gerry Fraley discusses the Minnesota Twins whose payroll is $110-million less than that of the Yankees. (The Twins won 90 games this past season and had just defeated the Yankees in the first game of the American league playoffs.) As Fraley notes, the Twins are renowned for how they treat their people. One of them is Al Newman who is currently struggling with a life-threatening illness. Here's a brief excerpt from Fraley's article:
"When beloved third-base coach Al Newman was hospitalized in Chicago this month because of a brain hemorrhage, general manager Terry Ryan remained with him for the entire 11-day stay. While Newman was hospitalized, the Twins clinched the Central title at home. Manager Ron Gardenshire stopped the postgame celebration, brought out Newman's uniform top and reminded the crowd of what he had done for the club."
If I understand George's key points in Authentic Leadership, both Ryan and Gardenshire offer examples of it. Specifically, they demonstrate "the highest integrity, [are] committed to building enduring organizations...who have a deep sense of purpose and are true to their core values...who have the courage to build their companies to meet the needs of all stakeholders, and who recognize the importance of their service to society." George addresses what he views as a need for new leadership when in fact the need is to increase the number of authentic leaders, not only in business but in government, religion, and the military. We need more men and women who "genuinely desire to serve others through their leadership...
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

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