True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership by Bill GeorgeOK, my second of three self-help books for the months of October/November.
I came to this book with the utmost level of skepticism and came away with slightly less skepticism. Ive seen several cases of people taking leadership courses only to become distant and insecurely authoritarian with the team that they must manage. If I were to write a leadership book, it would take a sentence: Dont be an asshole, listen more than talk, admit to being wrong, and lead by example.
Bill George has a slightly more round-about way of arriving at a fairly similar set of recommendations.
The most useful frame that I found throughout the book is the recurring reminder to define ones success oneself, and not just with the usual set of bonuses, raises, promotions, etc. Basically, to focus more on internal validation and less on external validation. The best way to do this, according to George (and I think hes right), is to develop a narrative of who you are, why you do what you do, and what you want to achieve with your life.
Those are three difficult questions. More often than not the resulting narratives become personal marketing campaigns, but they can also become powerful value statements that authentically persuade others to join your mission. The book led me to a lot of journaling … bits of text that will hopefully form parts of my own story of my own professional mission.
Its funny, from 23 until 29-years-old I was always responsible for managing teams of co-workers and yet I didnt really have anyone managing me. For being so young and naive I dont think I did a terrible job, but I certainly could have done better. Now at my new job I dont manage anyone and there are at least two or three people managing me. Still, at 31-years-old, its more than likely that Ill be managing others in the not-too-distant future. Hopefully I will do so with authenticity and grace.
Bill George and Peter Sims. Considering the intangible nature of leadership, those who read about it want to know that those who write about it are properly experienced and credentialed. Bill George certainly qualifies. He is a management professor at the Harvard Business School, a member of several corporate boards, and the former chairman and CEO of Medtronic, the medical technology stalwart. George, and writer Peter Sims, the founder of an investment company, interviewed leaders to discover what authentic, ethical leadership is all about, what its essence is and what it requires. This book represents the fruits of their enlightened, comprehensive research efforts.
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