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Showing 1-10 of 88 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 129 reviews
VINE VOICEon November 10, 2014
"True North" by Bill George and Peter Sims, has been sitting on my "To Be Read" shelf for awhile. I finally pulled it down and drank from the refreshing stream of wisdom and insights that flowed from the authors' minds and spirits. Having served very successfully as Chairman and CEO of Medtronic, Mr. George has carved out another career as a much loved and respected professor at Harvard Business School, where I have had the privilege of interacting with him on several occasions.

The authors and their research assistants interviewed well over 100 successful leaders whose stories are profiled in "True North." The resulting work is simultaneously inspiring and humbling. Each chapter ends with an urging to take the relevant self-assessments that populate Appendix C. The book is so powerful and so helpful that I am already figuring out which of those whom I coach and mentor will most benefit from receiving a copy. The book is a step by step exposition of how truly authentic leaders got to be that way, beginning with telling their life stories.

The authors are very helpful in breaking leadership into three life phases:

Preparing for Leadership - up to age 30
Leading - 30-60
Giving Back - 60 and beyond

One of the characteristics of the Preparing for Leadership phase is "bumping up against the world. Here is how Randy Komisar, former CEO of LucasArts, describes this phenomenon:

"We begin life on a linear path where success is based on having a clear target. Life gets complicated when the targets aren't clear anymore, and you have to set your own targets. By rubbing up against the world, you get to know yourself. Either do that, or you're going to spend your life serving the interests and expectations of others." (Page 18)

The authors describe some of the bumps in the road that often confront young leaders, I was reminded of a recent conversation with a Special Forces officer who was about to lead his unit on a dangerous deployment. He was facing some leadership challenges within the unit, and was brainstorming with me about how to overcome those frustrations and detours:

"You may reach the point in your journey when your way forward is blocked or your worldview is turned upside down by events, and you have to rethink what your life and your leadership are all about. You start to question yourself: 'Am I good enough?' 'Why can't I get this team to achieve the goals I have set forth?' Or you may have a personal experience that causes you to realize that there is more to life than getting to the top." (Page 44)

A crucial stage in the development of a leader is learning to transition from "I" to "We." This transition is explained eloquently by my friend, Jaime Irick, West Point grad, Harvard Business School grad and President of GE Lighting:

"We spend our early years trying to be the best. To get into West Point or General Electric, you have to be the best. That is defined by what you can do on your own - your ability to be a phenomenal analyst or consultant or do well on a standardized test. When you become a leader, your challenge is to inspire others, develop them, and create change though them. If you want to be a leader, you've got to flip that switch and understand that it's about serving the folks on your team. This is a very simple concept, but one many people overlook. The sooner people realize it, he faster they will become leaders." (Pages 44-45)

It is clear that mentoring is an important part of every authentic leader's journey. And what may not be clear on the surface is that mentoring relationships must be a two-way street and both parties must benefit and grow the the relationship.

Through this book, Bill George has once again expanded the pool of those he is mentoring, for reading his inspiring account of the life stories of a rich variety of authentic leaders leads to growth, and places in our hands a tool that we can use and then pass on to those we in turn are mentoring.
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on August 9, 2015
True North is a wonderful book about self discovery on one's path to a meaningful and fulfilling life. What Bill George believes and so wonderfully portrays through hundreds of interviews with successful individuals is that if you find your passion and pursue it authentically, success will find you. There is a no cookie cutter recipe to becoming a successful leader. It requires trials and tribulations and according to Bill, most people will not truly find their course and begin their change-making journey until after their 30th birthday. We need to find ourselves in situations that force us to ask the question, "what am I doing here?" and "am I making the impact in this life that I really want to be?" When we can ask ourselves these questions and answer them authentically, we are on our way to finding our True North. Personally, I think I may be at a crucible in my life but it's way too soon to say. Discovering your True North is not as easy as you might want it to be, but once you find it, you'll be one step close to living a life that will fulfill you in ways previously unimaginable.
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on January 16, 2013
For anyone who has really read this book a common theme emerges. That theme is: If you want to be a great leader, something really tragic needs to happen to you or someone close to you. I don't think that's the right lesson for a leadership book, and found the repetition of the theme in the book ad nauseam to detract from what could have been a great book, albeit a much shorter book. After reading the book I realized that the entire lesson could have been taught much more effectively in about five pages. The anecdotes of personal tragedy serve as the fluff to fill the binding. If you want to read a book about how to turn that tragic experience you had into leadership skills this might be for you. If you want a great book on leadership, read the sparknotes.
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on September 4, 2014
I liked reading this book because it wasn't pushy towards one leadership style. I also enjoyed learning about the experiences and life decisions made by successful business people. The questions in the back of the book helped me digest the information and uncover some of my ideals. Overall it was a good read and I felt the book gave me some direction.
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on December 14, 2014
Comprehensive book on discovering the purpose ("true north") and styles of authentic leadership. A fair bit of examples and the epilogue sums it up with a question of have we made a difference and a quote of "Man in the Arena" from Roosevelt. Bill George's style is sincere and he draws a lot from his personal leadership experience at Medtronics.
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on November 3, 2013
The book written by Bill George (former CEO of Medtronic) is filled with his own experiences and those of the leaders that were interviewed for the book. This book was part of the required reading list for a college course on leadership and management. I was impressed with the organization and the stories of how these leaders made the right choices when faced with tough decisions.
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on May 19, 2016
This is an amazingly structured book of the purposes and reasonings of leadership for every individual that is or aspires to be a leader.

In my humble opinion this book will make you take a look at yourself and those around you to look to improve your leadership style! A must read for all leaders!
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on April 26, 2016
Its a great book and it really helped me in:
- Understanding the power of purpose
- Some useful insights on Leadership
- Very relevant cases and examples

The write up gets a little text book type at certain places. Needed to really push myself to complete in the last chapters.
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on May 21, 2014
Decent read if you want to know how CEOs of major companies discover their true north and how to become authentic leaders. It was not exactly what I was looking for in leadership books. I did learn a few good points. I strive to care about my people and be a good example.
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on October 22, 2015
I have read many books on leadership. True North gives a modern leadership approach with timeless wisdom from past and present. I like how the interviews were presented and the tools at the end of the book. This is a good read and wish it was one of the required reading for my Organizational Leadership degree.
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