Humility

“Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.”

Thomas Merton, American theologian

Bill George, whom you met briefly in the “Purpose” chapter, is a leader I admire greatly. Like me, he is a former Fortune 500 CEO who, instead of retiring after his adventures in the C-suite, has felt called to share his leadership experience and insight with the world. He is the leading expert on the subject of “authentic leadership,” having written the definitive book on the topic, True North. True to his character, when interviewed for this book, he balked at the characterization of his expertise, humbly protesting, “I wouldn’t call myself an ‘expert’ in anything.” His résumé makes a case to the contrary. He is a senior fellow at Harvard Business School, where he has taught leadership since 2004, imparting the many lessons he learned in his illustrious leadership career, including serving as chairman and CEO of Medtronic for over a decade, before which he was in senior leadership positions at Honeywell for many years.

Like that of most people, Bill’s journey to where he is now – successful, fulfilled, comfortable in who he is, and committed to giving back – was not a straight line. He had to take some knocks and face some uncomfortable truths along the way. But those knocks have fortified his leadership perspective, and amplified his ability to connect with people in a humble way.

In his 40s, Bill was climbing the corporate ladder at Honeywell. His expertise was turnarounds. ...

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