Bill George tells me that this the most difficult time to be a leader he’s seen in his life as they face major generational, political, societal shifts and challenges. The traditional command and control approach to leadership and management doesn’t work.
Instead, we need more authentic leaders have a clearer, longer-term view of what it takes to make their organisation successful. Leaders who take a stand on important issues, particularly the issues their employees and customers care about. Leaders who act as coaches more than manager, who tell the truth, are transparent, vulnerable, able to admit their mistakes. Organisations need younger leaders, especially those from the front line, closest to the action.
They should also encourage people to find their truth north – their fundamental values and beliefs – as early as possible in their careers, and challenge people mid-career to revisit and refresh their perspective on them. Reflect on your life, the good and bad times, strip it back and ask yourself what you are here for, and what matters. Look to lead an integrated life, practising reflection on how well you show up, perform, and align your own purpose to that of the organisation you work with.
Bill George is executive fellow at Harvard Business School (HBS), where he has taught leadership since 2004. He was chair and CEO of Medtronic, the world’s leading medical technology company. Under his leadership, Medtronic’s market capitalization grew from $1.1 billion to $60 billion, averaging 35 percent a year. Earlier in his career, he was an executive with Honeywell and Litton Industries and served in the U.S. Department of Defense. He has served as a director of Goldman Sachs, ExxonMobil, Novartis, Target, the Mayo Clinic, and World Economic Forum USA.
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