True North Book Summary - True North Book explained in key points
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True North summary

Bill George

Discover Your Authentic Leadership

4.4 (127 ratings)
20 mins

Brief summary

True North by Bill George is a leadership book that focuses on discovering and leading from your personal values and principles. It provides real-world examples and exercises to help readers hone their skills and become authentic leaders.

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    True North
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    Take your inspiration and passion for leadership from your life story.

    We all have unique life stories shaped by past relationships and events. Authentic leaders, however, gain more from these experiences than the rest of us.

    Authentic leaders are genuine people - that is, true to themselves and their beliefs - who are able to motivate others to perform at their best. Ultimately, they’re more concerned with serving others than with their own success or recognition.

    Understanding the meanings of the key events in your unique story will guide you and help you find and focus on your True North. This, in turn, will set you on the path to becoming an authentic leader.

    A case in point is Howard Schultz, the founder of Starbucks. When an accident caused his father to lose his job, his whole family lost their health coverage. Schultz’s mother was pregnant and unable to work, so his parents borrowed money and avoided bill collectors.

    Schultz had vowed to create a different reality for workers if he had the chance, and he thus made Starbucks the first company in the United States to offer health coverage to part-time employees working as little as 20 hours a week.

    In this case, Schultz’s experience and memories of his father carried him along the path to authentic leadership.

    Authentic leaders’ stories also provide the context for their lives, as well as the inspiration to have an impact in the world.

    Take Reatha Clark King, former president of the General Mills Foundation. As a poor, black woman growing up in Georgia during the 1940s, both poverty and discrimination were constant obstacles in King’s life. Nevertheless, she won scholarships and eventually earned a PhD in thermochemistry.

    King’s goal is to create more opportunities for the poor and to help others overcome the barriers of racial and gender discrimination. She drew inspiration from her own story to stay true to who she is – and to stay on course with her True North.

    Money and success don’t make authentic leaders forget those they’ve left behind; rather, they spur a sense of responsibility to help them.

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    What is True North about?

    True North (2007) is a guide to discovering your inner compass and staying true to yourself, all while developing the skills you need to be an authentic leader. By uncovering your values and motivations, you’ll gain the tools you need to build a professional life that remains true to who you are.

    True North Review

    True North (2007) by Bill George is a book that explores the concept of authentic leadership and provides valuable insights for those seeking to lead with integrity. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers real-life stories and practical advice on how to become a truly authentic leader, enabling readers to develop their own unique leadership style.
    • Combining personal experiences, research, and interviews with top leaders, the book provides a comprehensive and well-rounded understanding of what it means to be an authentic leader.
    • With its thought-provoking questions and reflective exercises, the book actively engages readers in a process of self-discovery, making it an interactive and transformative read.

    Best quote from True North

    The story of your life is not your life. It is your story. - John Barth

    —Bill George
    example alt text

    Who should read True North?

    • Leaders looking for a better work-life balance
    • Anyone hoping to become a better leader
    • People who need an extra bit of help reaching their goals

    About the Author

    Bill George is a professor of management practice at the Harvard Business School, and is currently on the board of directors at ExxonMobil, Goldman Sachs and Novartis. He is also the author of the best-selling book Authentic Leadership. 

    Peter Sims established the “Leadership Perspectives” course at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and co-founded the London office of the global investment firm Summit Partners.


    Bill George: True North copyright 2007, John Wiley & Sons Inc. Used by permission of John Wiley & Sons Inc. and shall not be made available to any unauthorized third parties.

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    True North FAQs 

    What is the main message of True North?

    Discover your authentic leadership by aligning your values and beliefs with your actions. Find your True North.

    How long does it take to read True North?

    True North can be read in several hours. The Blinkist summary will take only 15 minutes.

    Is True North a good book? Is it worth reading?

    True North is worth reading for those interested in developing their leadership skills. It offers valuable insights and practical advice.

    Who is the author of True North?

    Bill George is the author of True North.

    What to read after True North?

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