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Bill George is a senior fellow at Harvard Business School, where he has taught leadership since 2004. He is the author of Discover Your True North, Authentic Leadership, and 7 Lessons for Leading in Crisis. Bill is the former chairman and chief executive officer of Medtronic.  He joined Medtronic in 1989 as president and chief operating officer, was the CEO from 1991-2001, and board chair from 1996-2002.  Earlier in his career, he was a senior executive with Honeywell and Litton Industries and served in the U.S. Department of Defense.

  • Sustained excellence =
    • Authentic, real, and vulnerable
    • They know how to bring people together and inspire them
    • They challenge, help, and coach people
  • People do not want the Jack Welch style today. 
  • How did Bill earn the CEO role at Medtronic?
    • Team building – “I continued to develop leaders.”
    • “Do your current job exceptionally well, develop others, and don’t think about your promotion.”
    • Give people an opportunity and a sense of purpose
  • Your True North
    • Make the shift from what you are to who you are
    • Process your life story and the significant events
    • The difficult times make you who you are
      • What do you want them to say at your funeral?
  • The “Coach” Acronym
    • Care
    • Organize
    • Align
    • Challenge
    • Help
  • “You must be a constant learner if you want to be a leader.”
  • Leadership Crucibles:
    • Leadership is about relationships
  • What Bill has learned teaching at Harvard
    • It’s a mistake to chase external expectations
    • You need to be fulfilled by your work
  • Keys to a great marriage:
    • Communicate all the time
    • You need to grow together
  • Keys to being a great dad:
    • Be there, be present
    • Listen
  • Bill shares what it’s like leading through today’s challenges, creating inclusive cultures, and how to lead through crises.
  • Bill shares the dangers of leading without True North, including case studies of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, WeWork’s Adam Neumann, Uber’s Travis Kalanick, and Theranos’s Elizabeth Holmes
  • “Pursuing purpose with passion
    • Practicing solid values
    • Leading with heart
    • Establishing enduring relationships
    • Demonstrating self-discipline”
  • “You need to be who you are, not try to emulate somebody else.”
  • “The hardest person you will ever have to lead is yourself.”
  • “The reality is that no one can be authentic by trying to be like someone else. There is no doubt you can learn from their experiences, but there is no way you can be successful trying to be like them. People trust you when you are genuine and authentic, not an imitation.”
  • “The role of leaders is not to get other people to follow them but to empower others to lead.”

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