True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership


I recently finished True North, written by Bill George, who is best knows as the CEO of Medtronic. I have mixed feelings about the book, but given the popularity of leadership as a topic, I know some of you will like this one more than I do, so that is why I decided to review it.

First of all, there are some great points in the book about how many of the command and control leaders celebrated by the business press have short tenure. After interviewing 125 top leaders, Bill George comes to the conclusion that leadership is more about teams and less about a superhero CEO. The crux of the book is that leaders need to be authentic, standing up for their values, morals, and the things they believe in. I think that's true because leaders are often selling a vision, and to sell anything, you have to believe in it. People perform better in situations where they can be honest and true to their beliefs, and that certainly applies even more to positions of leadership.

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The main thing that I didn't like about the book is that it had too many anecdotes for my taste. I read a lot of business books/periodical/blogs and thus I was already familiar with a lot of the people interviewed and some parts of their stories. Plus I have a natural contrarian streak, and this book is more along the popular wisdom line.

Nonetheless, if you are into leadership, or you feel like you learn a lot from the stories of other leaders, I would encourage you to check it out.

Also check out this email debate between Bill George and Wendy Kopp, where they resolved that the hardest person you ever have to lead is yourself.