Destiny, with credit to Professor Nettifee brought the book True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership into my life and I want to bring it into the lives of others. More specifically those who may believe they weren’t born with the characteristics or traits to become a leader or those who have not found their passion or purpose in life; their “True North.” The book, written by Bill George and co-author Peter Sims, compiles a series of interviews with 125 managers from Howard Schultz of Starbuck’s to Dan Vasella of Novartis. The interviewees guide readers through their journey to become the leaders they are today; discussing their failures, successes, obstacles, personal tragedies and triumphs. The stories of each manager prove the True North’s thesis, which is no one person is born a leader and there isn’t one path to becoming a leader. The book is separated into three sections: 1) Leadership is a Journey 2) Discover Your Authentic Leadership 3) Empowering People to Lead. Before giving overviews of each section, it is important to define an authentic leader. To become an authentic leader means to bring “people together around a shared purpose and empowers them to step up and lead authentically in order to create values for all stakeholders,” (xxxi). Bill George has identified the following five dimensions every authentic leader should encompass: 1.
Pursuing purpose with passion
Practicing solid values
Leading with heart
Establishing enduring relationships
Part I: Leadership is a Journey
The Journey to Authentic Leadership
After Bill George and Peter Sims interviewed all 125 managers, they found a common thread throughout each of their interviews: their life stories impacted their passion to lead. After experiencing “personal illness or the illness of a family member; death of a parent or sibling; or feelings of being excluded, discriminated against or rejected by peers,” they all were inspired and motivated to lead (8). After realizing how your life story connects to your purpose and passion, the journey begins. Many college graduates, and even some professionals believe the journey to leadership is a straight shot to the top; as soon as you’ve landed top management, you’ve become a leader. But this idea is wrong. Leadership is a journey that has many ups and downs. Bill George and Peter Sims have observed three stages of leadership development: I.
Preparing for Leadership: Character Formation and Rubbing Up Against the World II.
Leading: Stepping Up to Lead
Giving Back: Generativity: Wisdom and Giving Back
As a student, I am in Phase I of my development. This stage is all about me; getting to know myself, educating myself and gaining as much experience as possible. This is the phase where it is important to ask ourselves, what do we want to do with our lives?
In Phase II, we become leaders. In this phase, we usually go through a crucible; a tough time in our lives that tests ourselves and transforms our understanding of what leadership is all about. In Phase III, leaders are serving on for-profit and not-for-profit boards, mentoring young leaders, teaching, or coaching. They inspire and motivate others to become authentic leaders. This is said to be the most rewarding phase of leadership development. See Exhibit 1 in the Appendices for a graph that illustrates a typical journey to leadership. Why Leaders Lose Their Way
Another common thread found throughout the interviews is sometimes leaders lose sight of their True North and lose their way. As leaders gain more and more success, leaders sometimes begin craving success so much that nothing else matters. They lose sight of reality and no longer want to hear “negative” feedback; they only surround themselves with people who will tell them what they want to hear. They fear failure. They work so hard towards perfection that they no longer can recognize their own failures or weaknesses. And they tend to...
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