True North – thoughts on leadership

Jun 03

I just finished reading a great book about leadership – “True North” by Bill George. He is the retired CEO from Medtronic. Each chapter of the book had a section of questions in the back to help guide you in your own journey to becoming and authentic leader. The Chairman of the Board of our company spoke about this book during his speech accepting a lifetime achievement award. He spoke about the leadership vacuum in the world today in both the public and the private sector. This really got me thinking. For most of my career I have been trying to become a better leader with very few real mentors or examples of what a good leader is. I had one good example during my years at Arthur Andersen. That was Alvin Wade. He was honest and approachable, held people accountable and truly cared about his people. Since then I really haven’t had a good leader to model or learn from. I have sort of been winging it. In the process though, I think I have become a very good leader. But I am still in the process of learning how to be better. The book had some really thought provoking questions in the appendices. I thought if I tried to tackle some of them on my blog that I might actually do the work that the book intends for the reader to do.

The first question in the appendix is – What leaders, past or present, do you admire most?

I think one would have to be Moses. He struggled so with his leadership. He was reluctant to lead and had no examples to follow. He learned as he went along. He had to repeatedly overcome obstacles but he persevered. He made mistakes but he learned from them.

Mother Teresa would have to be another one. She lead by example with a silent grace and complete selflessness.

Abraham Lincoln, Harry Truman, Lewis and Clark, and Thomas Jefferson are some American leaders I admire. The first two were faced with very difficult times and very difficult choices. Lewis and Clark had a great deal of courage to tackle the unknown and were creative problem solvers when they encountered issues along the way. Thomas Jeffereson had foresight and was a great thinker and planner. He was always learning, reading, preparing himself and others to lead.

I think Teddy Roosevelt is another example of a leader I admire. He was honest and forthright and not afraid to stand up for what he believed in. He also learned from his mistakes and overcame great adversity in his health, his career and his life. He never let defeat get him down.

There are so many but these are the one’s that came to mind when I first ask myself this question. Sadly, none in current times come to mind.

Who are the leaders that come to mind for you?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *