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George begins his book with a special thanks to Enron and Arthur Andersen. He explains that the depth of their misconduct shocked the world and awakened us all to the reality that business was headed toward self-destruction. Although regulators and lawmakers have crafted a few new laws to close loopholes, George writes that integrity, stewardship and sound governance are deeper issues that must be addressed by leaders themselves.
Building Enduring Organizations
His prescription for better leadership is authentic leaders of the highest integrity who are committed to building enduring organizations, who have the courage to build their companies to meet the needs of all their stakeholders, and who recognize the importance of their service to society. Authentic Leadership offers a fresh approach to business leaders that has been "refined in the crucible of real-world experience," while presenting the lessons George learned while dealing with tough issues throughout his career as a successful leader.
In the first part of his book, George describes authentic leaders and how they develop. He writes that they genuinely desire to serve others through their leadership and are more interested in empowering the people they lead to make a difference than they are in power, money or prestige for themselves. They are as guided by passion and compassion as they are by their logical minds.
To develop authenticity, George writes that each leader must develop his or her own leadership style that is consistent with his or her personality and character. The authenticity of the leader is more important than the style with which the leader leads. Authenticity means accepting one's faults as well as using one's strengths. George writes that authentic leaders demonstrate these five qualities:
In the second part of Authentic Leadership, George reveals the ways authentic leaders build authentic companies. He writes that an authentic company is guided by a mission and vision, and practices a consistent set of values while empowering its employees to serve customers with innovative products and superior service. Being disciplined enough to produce results for all stakeholders is also a crucial part of an authentic company.
The Homology Process
George writes that another ingredient in the recipe for creating an authentic company is homology. This is the process by which the leader and the organization interact and grow from interacting with each other. Through interactions with the company, the leader becomes more effective in his or her role. As a result, the organization responds to his or her leadership.
Authentic Leadership also describes how authentic companies compete more effectively in the market and how authentic leaders look beyond the bottom line when pursuing a mission, living by one's values, and satisfying stakeholders. George writes that authentic companies that want to succeed for many decades to come must have a sound system of governance and build in leadership succession for several generations. Authentic leaders must also play a role in the greater society by tackling public policy issues and addressing challenging societal problems.
Why We Like This Book
Authentic Leadership reveals the time-tested leadership lessons learned by an important leader during his lifetime and productive tenure at the helm of a leading medical technology company, and shows leaders how they can create similarly astounding results. Filled with detailed stories from George's personal and business life, this book offers leaders a better way out of the current corporate crisis. Copyright © 2004 Soundview Executive Book Summaries
George candidly recounts his experiences as chair and CEO of Medtronic, a medical technology producer, and makes a case that we need new, authentic business leaders. The five essential dimensions of "authentic" leaders are purpose, values, heart, relationships, and self-discipline. In the scorched, post-Enron corporate world, this motivational how-to will help developing business leaders find the path to personal and business success. (Best Business Books 2003, Library Journal, March 15, 2004)
George, a former Medtronic CEO, sets the tone early in his book: "Somewhere along the way we lost sight of the imperative of selecting leaders that create healthy corporations for the long term." It would be wonderful if George then provided readers hungry for change with a blueprint for how this could happen; alas, such is not the case. George's thesis - too many CEOs think only in the short term and of the stock price, eventually losing a company's focus in the hurtling pursuit of all Street validation - is not a bad one. His proposal: a call for "authentic leadership," that is, finding a leader who doesn't try to emulate the greats, because such copycatting will never result in authenticity or honest leadership. It all gets a bit fuzzy at times, and George (who BusinessWeek recognized as a top-25 manager in 1998) relies far too much on his experience at Medtronic, a medical technology producer. Although George's company seems a good example of what he's talking about (he once made headlines by boldly declaring "Shareholders come third," after customers and employees), there's not a rigor9ous enough attempt here to make that example universally applicable. Though superbly moral and inspiring, this volume is not as helpful as it could be. (Aug.)
Forecast: With appearances on Meet the Press and Talk of the Nation, George has a recognizable name in the media, and scheduled interviews on NPR and the Charlie Rose Show will only help with book sales. (Publishers Weekly, July 7, 2003)
"There is a great deal of valuable insight in Authentic Leadership. One can only wish that Mr. George had written it five years ago, before so many chief executives led their companies so badly astray." (New York Times, July 27, 2003)
|Preface: A New Generation of Leaders|
|Introduction: Where Have All the Leaders Gone?||1|
|1||Leadership Is Authenticity, Not Style||11|
|2||The Transformation of Leaders||27|
|3||Leading a Balanced Life||45|
|4||Missions Motivate, Dollars Don't||61|
|5||Values Don't Lie||71|
|6||It's the Customer, Stupid!||81|
|7||It's Not Just the CEO||91|
|8||Whose Bottom Line: Customers or Shareholders?||101|
|9||Seven Deadly Sins: Pitfalls to Growth||109|
|10||Overcoming Obstacles: Nothing Can Stand in Your Way||117|
|11||Ethical Dilemmas: When in Rome, Don't Follow the Romans||127|
|12||Innovations from the Heart||133|
|13||Acquisitions Aren't Just About Money||143|
|14||Shareholders Come Third||153|
|15||Governance Is Governance||165|
|16||Sticking Your Neck Out||177|
|17||Preparing for Succession ... and Moving On||187|
|Epilogue: If Not Me, Then Who? If Not Now, When?||197|
|Medtronic Financial Results||201|