The Favorites Game: Bill George

By: Kristin Clarke, CAE

What leadership expert and author Bill George likes best.

Harvard management professor Bill George is probably most known for his best-selling books—including True North and Authentic Leadership—and his long, successful stint as chair and CEO of Medtronics, a global medical technology company. In his latest book,7 Lessons for Leading in Crisis, George notes that economic downturns and other business lows are "defining moments" for leaders savvy enough to recognize incredible, though often unexpected, opportunities to transform successfully.

But enough about book learning. We want to go off page and hear what this guru ranks number one in this month's Favorites Game:      

Favorite advice ever received: Be yourself and to let people know who you are.

Favorite leadership (crucible) moment: When I made the decision to leave Honeywell and go to Medtronic. It transformed everything for me for the next 20 years.

Favorite brainstorming technique: Get people around the table, throw out ideas about where we're going in the future, and let them open up and say, "Here's where we want to go!"

Favorite way to rally the troops: To engage them in inspiring discussion about the issues that are on their minds and to show a degree of openness and vulnerability about the challenges being faced

Favorite power snack: Luna bar.

Favorite failure: I've had many, many failures in my career, like when I appointed the wrong president of Europe who was running a bribery scandal, and I had to go back and take responsibility. Why did I appoint this person without checking out his values? It was one on me, not one on him.

Favorite board-management myth: That you can understand everything that's going on, including all the pages of the audit-committee report.

Favorite personal goal: To inspire the next generation of leaders to lead better than my generation has.

Favorite thing learned from a competitor or enemy: Always attack at your weakest spot.

Favorite way to spend an unexpected extra hour: With my wife, walking around Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis.

Kristin Clarke, CAE, is a writer and researcher for ASAE & The Center. Email: [email protected]

Kristin Clarke, CAE

Kristin Clarke, CAE, is a contributor and books editor for Associations Now.