Bill George is the author of two books, True North and Authentic Leadership. He is the former CEO of Medtronic
Tom Gardner: Bill, for those who haven't read your books, Authentic Leadership and True North, what are your five dimensions of an authentic leader?
Bill George: Well, I wrote Authentic Leadership back in 2003 to capture a different kind of leader than what I was seeing in the post-Enron-WorldCom-Tyco era. I focused on five things.
First, there is the importance of a leader having a purpose and knowing why they want to lead and where they're going with their leadership. Really, what is the purpose of their leadership.
Then, second, closely aligned with that, is practicing their values every day so that they're consistent in how they live their values. This is not just what they articulate as their values, but actually how they practice their values.
Third was a relatively new idea when Authentic Leadership was published. It was the idea of leading with your heart, not just your head. Obviously, you have to have the intellect to do the job, but I think having the heart is key. This means having the passion for the work, having a real understanding of compassion for the people you work with, having a real deep understanding and empathy for your customers, and having the courage to make difficult decisions.
When you think about it, passion, compassion, courage and empathy are all matters of the heart, not of the head. There are so many leaders who have been brilliant leaders but have failed because they failed in that dimension.
Fourth, I believe it's crucial to build long-term, connected relationships. Many people build a network of superficial relationships. I think we're going to see the arrow swing back now to deeper networking and more connected relationships with people, where there's a sense of two-way commitment between the individuals.
Then finally, fifth, is having the self-discipline to get results. That's the bottom line for anyone: Can you deliver on what you promise, on your commitments? Whether it's a financial commitment, a personal commitment, whatever it is, I think we all have to have the self-discipline personally to deliver on our commitments.
Gardner: Bill, let's take your emphasis in No. 4 on building relationships and making leadership personal. There are a lot of very hard-driving leaders who seem to meet with success. Why do you say it is so important to connect at a deeper level?
George: Well, take Procter & Gamble
That's how he's built Procter & Gamble. When you look at the success of that company, it's come because he is very interested in other people. He takes time with them. He is genuinely concerned about them and is very highly motivational on a personal basis, on a one-to-one basis. He has spent a great deal of his time, not in Cincinnati in the headquarters, but out with his troops.
I remember I had a student when I was teaching at Yale about four years ago that used to work for him and he was telling me when Lafley made his first visit to Chile, he said there had never been a CEO at Procter & Gamble ever to come to Chile. And he talked about how personally involved he was with him on a one-to-one basis and I thought that was a rather amazing tribute to Lafley's ability to build those kinds of relationships. And you can say, "Well, that is just one person out of 100,000 people at P&G." That's true, but the word spreads. People get a sense of who their leaders are and I think one of the things, Tom, that's really important is that people can tell who is authentic and who is not. That's particularly true in the under-40 generation. People just aren't going to tolerate leaders who are inauthentic.
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Tom Gardner is the CEO of The Motley Fool, and owns none of the stocks mentioned above.