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AUTHENTIC LEADERSHIP: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value

By Bill George
John Wiley & Sons Pub. Date: August, 2003; $27.95; 210 pages; Cloth ISBN: 0-7879-6913-3 
With the stock market in a paralyzing malaise as a result of the misdeeds of corporate leaders, frightened investors wonder when it will end? In the wake of these troubling times, one of America's most successful CEOs, Bill George, says that simply throwing corporate rogues in jail and enacting new laws and regulations will not solve the problem. In his bold new book, AUTHENTIC LEADERSHIP: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value, the former chairman and CEO of Medtronic contends, "We don't need new laws. We need new leadership," to get us out of the current corporate crisis because "you can’t legislate integrity."

If anyone knows what goes on behind closed executive doors, it’s Bill George. He sits on some of America's most prestigious boards and is fast becoming the unofficial spokesperson for responsible leadership. George says the root cause of the current crisis is the kind of leaders we have chosen to run our corporations. In his deep, introspective examination of corporate leaders, George contends that in order to restore confidence in the market, "We need new leadership -- authentic leaders, people of the highest integrity, committed to building enduring organizations; leaders who have a deep sense of purpose.

George explains that to excel in the 21st century, great companies must be led by "authentic leaders" driven by passion and purpose, not greed. He shows how to foster five essential dimensions of authentic leaders: purpose, values, heart, relationships, and self-discipline. George argues that leaders who focus on short-term financial strategies and driving up stock prices will ultimately destroy companies. He demonstrates convincingly why mission-driven companies create far more long-term shareholder value than do financially-driven firms.

And George should know. Under his twelve years of mission-driven leadership, George built Medtronic into the world's leading medical technology company as its market capitalization soared from $1.1 billion to $60 billion, averaging a whopping 35% a year. Thanks to developing a strong management team, George grew the company seven-fold by making it "patient-centric, customer-focused, innovative, unsurpassed in quality and service." Medtronic was recently ranked by Fortune Magazine as #1 for "Long-term Shareholder Value" and routinely appears on its annual "100 Best Companies to Work For" list.

George also writes intimately of the personal challenges he’s faced along the way. He describes how he lost numerous student elections, worked on personality flaws on the advice of college friends, and coped with personal tragedies in facing the sudden deaths of his mother and, soon after, his fiancée just three weeks before their wedding. He addresses one of the most pressing issues in business today -- leading a balanced work and family life, openly recounting his own pressures in maintaining a healthy marriage and raising children while traveling globally and working in high pressure leadership roles.

AUTHENTIC LEADERSHIP offers an insider's view of the corrupting pressures of the tyranny of quarterly earnings, the temptations of leadership, and why even good leaders may fail when facing character-defining crucibles. George gives gripping accounts of some of the toughest tests he encountered while running Medtronic -- from internal ethical dilemmas to battles with the FDA. early days as CEO, he had to fire the president of Medtronic Europe, a man he had just promoted four months earlier, for ethical violations, and also challenged the powerful leader of the FDA

In the crowded world of post-Enron business books written by consultants and whistleblowers, AUTHENTIC LEADERSHIP is a refreshingly original and candid book by a CEO who has been in the trenches of leadership for more than thirty years. George has aimed it at a wide range of leaders -- from the aspiring MBA student to the experienced CEO still grappling with the strategic and ethical challenges facing leaders today -- as well as investors frustrated by corporate wrongdoing. America's leading CEOs, politicians and policy makers -- from Jeffrey Immelt to Walter Mondale to Arthur Levitt -- hail the book as a must read for successful business leaders.