True North - Bill George

Do you want to be a successful leader? Learn to discover your true north to find your purpose at this stage of your career.

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In the book “Discover Your True North”, Bill George will help you create an internal compass to guide you through life in a fulfilling way. The true north is your fixed point in a revolving world that helps you stay on track as a leader.

As a compass point to the magnetic pole, the true north indicates your leadership proposal. When you follow it, your leadership will be authentic, and people will naturally relate to you.

However, discovering it takes a lifetime of commitment and learning. But, as long as you are faithful to who you are, you can deal with the most difficult circumstances that life presents.

Ready to discover your true north with this summary? Keep reading!

 

About the book “Discover Your True North”

 

The book “Discover Your True North” was written by Bill George and first published in 2007. It received an expanded and updated version in 2015, published by John Wiley & Sons.

Throughout its 320 pages, the book offers a concrete and comprehensive program to become an authentic leader and shows how to chart your path to successful leadership.

The author shows how you can use your natural leadership skills to inspire and empower others to excel in today’s complex and globalized world.

 

About the author Bill George

 

Bill George, former Medtronic CEO, is a senior member of Harvard Business School (HBS), where he teaches leadership in executive education programs. He was a professor of management practice from 2004 to 2014.

Also, Bill George is the author of four best-selling books: “Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secret to Creating Lasting Values”, “Finding Your True North: A Personal Guide”, “7 Lessons for Leading in Crisis”, besides “Discover Your True North”.

He serves on the boards of Goldman SachsMayo Clinic, and The World Economic Forum, and has served on the boards of ExxonMobilNovartis, and Target.

 

To whom is this book indicated?

 

If you want to become a leader, the work “Discover Your True North” is for you. As well as for leaders at all levels, be it at the top of a company or preparing to get there.

The opportunity to learn how to create and perfect your own development plan to become an authentic leader is here!

 

Main ideas of the book “Discover Your True North”

 

  • You have the ability to discover your authentic leadership right now;
  • You don’t have to be born with the characteristics or traits of a leader;
  • Don’t wait for a push;
  • Being at the top of the organization is not mandatory;
  • You can step up and lead at any point in your life;
  • The challenge is to understand ourselves well enough to discover where we can use our leadership to serve others;
  • Ask yourself: “If not me, who? If not now, then when?”.

 

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[Book Summary] Discover Your True North - Bill George

 

Overview: Your life story defines your leadership

 

The motivation of authentic leaders, according to them, is to understand their own life stories. It allows them to know who they are and also keeps them focused on their true north.

Many of them find motivation through an experience in personal life, for example, a personal illness or the illness of a loved one; the death of a family member, or feeling discriminated against or rejected by others.

As shown in the book “Discover Your True North”, what emerges from the uniqueness of these life stories is that many leaders find their passion for leading. Not because they were born as leaders. Not because they believed they had the characteristics, traits, or style of a leader.

But because they see themselves as people who want to make a difference and inspire others to join them in pursuit of common goals.

Many people see themselves as victims, feeling as if the world doesn’t give them a choice. However, for the author Bill George, reevaluating our stories allows us to recognize that we are not victims, but people shaped by experiences that provide the impetus for us to become leaders.

So, ask yourself: “What people or experiences shaped me?”, “What were the main twists and turns in my life?”.

 

Overview: Knowing your authentic self

 

Discovering our authentic leadership demands that we test our values and beliefs through real-world experiences.

But since there is no map or a direct path between where you are now and where you want to go, you need a compass to stay focused on your True North and get back on track if you get off it.

The author Bill George explains in the book “Discover Your True North” that a compass is a tool that you can update and calibrate with each attempt to ensure that every step you take on your leadership journey is in line with how you want to direct your life.

You will only be directed to your True North when all parts of your compass are well developed. So, let’s get to know them:

 

  • Self-Awareness: Know what your strengths are and what skills you need to improve;
  • Values and Principles: Know what your values are and what convictions conduct you to leadership;
  • Motivations: Know how to balance external and internal motivations;
  • Support Team: Know who to trust and who to turn to on your way;
  • Integrated Life: Know how to aggregate aspects of your life to obtain total satisfaction.

 

True North Compass from the book.

Source: Book “Discover Your True North”.

 

Overview: Practicing your values and principles

 

Once you have a clear awareness of who you are, you must understand your values and the principles that guide your leadership. According to the book “Discover Your True North”, several leaders referred to their values as their moral compass.

Daniel Vasella, of Novartis, said:

 

“Most people have a kind of moral compass that gives them which direction to go.”

 

Jim Burke, former president and CEO of Johnson & Johnson, said:

 

“Without a moral center, you swim in chaos.”

 

As the author Bill George emphasizes, staying focused on your values is a difficult task. You can easily get off course, as the temptations and pressures of the outside world take you away from your moral center. But if you have a high level of self-awareness, your True North compass can help you get back in the right direction.

 

Overview: What motivates you to be a leader?

 

Authentic leaders need to maintain high levels of motivation, as well as keep it in balance; therefore, understanding what motivates them is highly important.

There are two types of motivation: external and internal.

The author Bill George explains that many leaders are motivated to be successful based on external parameters. They like the feeling of success, recognition, and status that come with promotions and financial rewards.

So, as presented in the book “Discover Your True North”, external motivations are monetary compensation, having power, having a title, being publicly recognized, having social status, and winning over other people.

While internal motivations are personal growth, the satisfaction of doing a good job, helping people to develop, finding meaning in efforts, being faithful to their beliefs, and making a difference in the world.

 

Overview: Building your support team

 

Your support team is the fourth element of your development plan. It will help you stay focused on your True North. Besides keeping you based on reality, it will support you to venture on your leadership journey.

Leaders don’t achieve success on their own. Although we are all insecure, some are more open about them than others.

So, the functions of your team are to provide support to advise you in situations of uncertainty, to be present in times of difficulty, and to celebrate moments of success with you.

In the book “Discover Your True North”, the author Bill George emphasizes that the people with whom an authentic leader surrounds themselves support their values and help them stay on the path, especially when outside forces pressure them to follow another trail.

So how do you build a support team? Several authentic leaders have a varied support structure that includes their partners, family members, mentors, close friends, and personal and professional support groups.

Experienced leaders have built their support teams over time, as their experiences, shared stories and the desire to be vulnerable with people close to them have created the confidence they needed in times of challenges and uncertainty.

 

Overview: Remain true to yourself, integrating your life

 

To integrate your life, you must remain true to yourself, especially when the outside world is chaotic. As the author Bill George shares, true leaders have a constant and confident presence.

They don’t change who they are overnight. Integration requires discipline, especially in stressful periods, when it is easy to become reactive and adopt bad habits.

Leading is a stressful job. Of course, it is difficult to avoid pressure when you are responsible for companies, results, and people, as highlighted in the book “Discover Your True North”.

The higher you climb, the greater your freedom to control your destiny, but also the tension level is greater. The question here is how you can manage stress so that you can maintain your own sense of balance.

To keep his perspective, Mark Reynoso, of Belkin Corporation, imagines a simple analogy:

 

“If I have a hundred balls coming my way and I can only catch two, I can stress about the lack of 98 balls or accept the reality that I can only catch two. In fact, make sure they are the most important.”

 

What do other authors say about it?

 

For John Maxwell, author of the book “Leadership Gold”, as we gain experience and wisdom we must use them to focus on ourselves. Not in the sense of feeding self-centeredness, but to reach the domain of self-knowledge, of our strengths and weaknesses.

In the book “Beyond Leadership”, Leonardo Peracini makes it clear that it is not possible to lead without you knowing yourself. Also, the leader has the function of helping the employees to discover their own goals, that is, you, as a leader, must be the “bridge” between the employees and their final purpose.

Finally, in “Learn Leadership from La Casa de Papel”, the author Angela Miguel extracts important lessons about leadership that the highly successful series has to teach us, such as having clear goals and plans and the value of teamwork.

 

Okay, but how can I apply this to my life?

 

  • Find motivations in your life;
  • Stay focused on your True North, don’t stray from the path;
  • Seek authenticity in your leadership through your life experiences;
  • Build your compass based on the concepts: Self-Awareness, Values and Principles, Motivations, Support Team, and Integrated Life;
  • Maintain a high level of motivation;
  • Remain true to yourself.

 

That’s what life and leadership are about. Their fulfillment doesn’t come from money, titles, prizes, or recognition. These fleeting symbols of external gratification will disappear like the wind.

 

Did you like this summary of the book “Discover Your True North”?

 

Ready to discover your True North? Apply the lessons of the author Bill George and let us know in the comments!

And if you are interested in the book, click on the image below to purchase it:

 

Book “Discover Your True North”

 

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