Being an effective and successful leader is not an easy task. A beginner might need some advice concerning starting their project or a startup, building a team, and maintaining a productive atmosphere. Bill George, a former CEO of Medtronic and the author of the bestseller True North, shared some valuable insight into effective leadership in his interview with Wharton School of Business. The main points that I have learned from it are always keeping in mind my ultimate goal, strengths, and experience and learning from the diverse people around me.
First of all, George highlighted the importance of setting a clear goal for oneself and the team. This principle applies to the company’s global, ultimate mission and to every minor objective that one should achieve. George admitted that every time an employee had failed to fulfill the task properly due to inadequate goal-setting, it had been his mistake as a leader (“Authentic Leadership” 00:11:57-00:12:17).
Moreover, it is not enough to explain the company’s mission to the team once. George is certain that an effective leader should keep reminding their employees of the purpose of their work “every day, every minute, every hour” until they would “sound like a broken record” (“Authentic Leadership” 00:10:37-00:10:42). This idea is also reflected in Edwin Locke’s Goal-Setting Theory which suggests that “specific, difficult goals motivate people” (qtd. in Lussier and Achua 89). Thus, properly explaining the company’s mission to the employees can accelerate the working process and boost their motivation to work harder.
Secondly, George stated that an effective leader should be authentic. One should not copy others but should try to find one’s own “true north” that is one’s purpose in life (“Authentic Leadership” 00:13:18-00:14:00). In his opinion, to become successful, one should know and accept oneself, and one should especially focus on one’s strengths and former experience, including the failures and mistakes. The latter should not be considered as something negative, but they should be used as learning material.
Finally, George pointed out the importance of communicating with the people around and building productive relationships. According to the former CEO, these contacts are a valuable source of knowledge, fresh ideas, and relevant experience. He also mentioned having a lot of mentors and wise men on his way to success. Apart from that, George admitted that it might take time to build a good team, but ultimately, it is worth it when it is full of diverse people with new insights (“Authentic Leadership” 00:08:30-00:08:46, 00:18:13-00:19:01). So, building relationships and dialogue with one’s employees can be very beneficial for the leader.
George’s view on effective leadership includes setting clear goals and maintaining continuous contact with one’s employees. Therefore, it correlates with a high structure and high correlation leadership style in Ohio State University Model and can be close to 9,9 team leader style in the Leadership Grind (Lussier and Achua 74,76). So, George’s ideas seem to build a balanced leadership style that promotes high performance and a high level of involvement in the employees’ needs.
In my opinion, the abovementioned principles would be highly useful for me. Firstly, I would apply them to forming and improving my leadership style. However, I can also utilize them in other spheres of my life, as the value of effective goal-setting or communicative skills is not restricted to business. Therefore, I would try to focus on my strong points, set clear goals and remind myself and my team of them, and keep in contact with the people around me.
In conclusion, three major leadership principles promoted by Bill George are having a clear goal, being authentic, and continuously learning both from one’s own experience and from wise people around. These ideas are also reflected in Ohio State University Model’s high structure and high correlation leadership style, The Leadership Grind’s team leader style, and the Goal-Setting Theory. I believe that it may be beneficial to follow these principles in the business sphere and everyday life.
“Authentic Leadership.” YouTube, uploaded by KnowledgeAtWharton. 2014. Web.
Lussier, Robert N., and Christopher F. Achua. Leadership: Theory, Application, & Skill Development. 6th ed., Cengage Learning, 2016.