The updated business classic, True North, may be meant for Millennials, but leaders of all ages can benefit from the Emerging Leader Edition, co-written by Bill George and Zach Clayton.
Here are my takeaways as a not-so-emerging leader.
About the Authors
Bill George is a senior fellow at Harvard Business School, where he’s taught leadership since 2004. Prior to that, he was chairman and CEO of Metronic and served on the boards of Goldman Sachs, ExxonMobile, Novartis, Target, and Mayo Clinic. He’s also written four best-selling books: Authentic Leadership, True North, Finding Your True North, and 7 Lessons for Leading in Crisis.
Co-author Zach Clayton is CEO of Three Ships and a former student of George. As a “digital lifer,” Clayton has worked with leading private equity firms and more than 50 private equity-backed clients, advising investors, CEOs, and CMOs on digital strategy.
Together, George and Clayton interviewed 50 leaders, with an emphasis on emerging leaders. After combining those stories with interviews from previous versions, they’ve written the quintessential guide for leaders of all ages.
With a lot of books, I find myself wading through dry sections that make me want to stop altogether. I have to remind myself to keep reading — the good stuff is coming.
With True North, Emerging Leader Edition, that never happened. I was hooked from page one.The stories and insights are so riveting, I found myself turning off the TV and games because I didn’t want to stop.
And these aren’t the same old stories I’ve seen all over the web. They’re original, fresh, and fascinating.
I was especially interested in the way leadership is woven together with your values and character.
As the authors say, “The hardest person you will ever have to lead is yourself.”
The key, of course, is to find your True North, the values that you’re willing to live (and die) by — because then you’re leading from a place of integrity.
I also like the assertion that life’s challenges don’t disqualify you from leadership. Instead, they prepare you for the bigger challenges you’ll face as a leader.
High-pressure moments often serve as crucibles that help you identify your motivations and capabilities. And used properly, they make you a transformative leader.
George’s final clarion call says it all: “Lead with your heart as well as your head to make this world better for everyone.”
I’m not the target age of this book. But I am a natural leader who has never followed the traditional rules of leadership. One of my biggest takeaways is that there’s nothing wrong with my leadership style. Different is okay.
“When you gain self-awareness, you realize that you don’t have to emulate other people to be successful. Nor do you have to live in envy of them. You can admire them and learn from them without wanting to be like them.”
And that’s just what I’ve done.
I saw myself in many of the CEOs featured by George and Clayton. But after reading about how they navigated recessions, pandemics, and other challenges, I’ve got lots of new ideas that will help me level up as a leader.
The book is divided into four sections:
- Discover yourself
- Develop yourself
- Lead people
- Navigate today’s challenges
Every section builds on the last, so by the end of the book, you’ll feel like you had a series of executive coaching sessions with George and Clayton themselves.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a wanna-be, emerging, or seasoned leader, this book will empower you to lead with authenticity and courage. Highly recommended!
Check out my simple leadership framework, Authority Journey, which aligns remarkably well with True North.