William W. George

Senior Fellow

Unit: General Management

Contact:

(617) 495-6517

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Bill George is Senior Fellow at Harvard Business School, where he has taught leadership as a Professor of Management Practice since 2004. He is the former Chair and Chief Executive Officer of Medtronic and the author of four best-selling books:  Authentic Leadership; True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership; Finding Your True North; and 7 Lessons for Leading in Crisis.  His most recent book, True North Groups, was published in September 2011. Professor George is faculty chair of HBS’s executive education program Authentic Leadership Development and co-chair of Leading Global Enterprises.

He joined Medtronic in 1989 as President and Chief Operating Officer, was Chief Executive Officer from 1991-2001, and Chairman of the Board from 1996 to 2002.  Earlier in his career, he was an executive with Honeywell and Litton Industries and served in the U.S. Department of Defense. Mr. George currently serves as a director of ExxonMobil, Goldman Sachs, Mayo Clinic, and also recently served on the board of Novartis and Target.  He is a director of World Economic Forum USA, Minnesota’s Destination Medical Center Corporation, and the Guthrie Theater.  He is the former chair of Allina Health System, Abbott-Northwestern Hospital, United Way of the Greater Twin Cities, and Advamed.

Mr. George received his BSIE with high honors from Georgia Tech, his MBA with high distinction from Harvard University, where he was a Baker Scholar. He has received honorary PhDs from Georgia Tech, Mayo Medical School, University of St. Thomas, Augsburg College, and Bryant University and is a member of National Academy of Engineering. During 2002-03 he was professor at IMD International and Ecole Polytechnique in Lausanne, Switzerland, and executive-in-residence at Yale School of Management in 2003.

In 2014 he was awarded the prestigious Bower Award for Business Leadership by The Franklin Institute. He has been named one of the "Top 25 Business Leaders of the Past 25 Years" by PBS; "Executive of the Year-2001" by the Academy of Management; and "Director of the Year-2001-02" by the National Association of Corporate Directors. 

He and his wife Penny split their time between Cambridge and Minnesota.

HBS Healthcare Initiative

Featured Work

Publications

Books

  1. True North Groups: A Powerful Path to Personal and Leadership Development

    Bill George and Doug Baker

    All too often, we find ourselves forced to confront life's challenges on our own. What we need is an intimate group with whom we can examine our beliefs and share our lives. For the past thirty-five years, Bill George and Doug Baker have found the answer in True North Groups—small groups that gather regularly to explore members' greatest challenges. These groups provide opportunities for the honest conversations essential to develop the self-awareness, compassion, emotional intelligence, and authenticity required to be inspired human beings and inspiring leaders.

    Keywords: Interpersonal Communication; Leadership; Personal Development and Career; Problems and Challenges; Groups and Teams; Opportunities; Personal Characteristics;

    Citation:

    George, Bill, and Doug Baker. True North Groups: A Powerful Path to Personal and Leadership Development. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2011. View Details
  2. Seven Lessons for Leading in Crisis

    William W. George

    Seven Lessons for Leading in Crisis outlines the seven critical lessons leaders need to learn when facing crises. The book contains numerous examples of successful and failed leaders, with stories to illustrate their experiences and the author's advice to readers who may face similar crises.

    Keywords: Experience and Expertise; Learning; Leadership; Crisis Management;

    Citation:

    George, William W. Seven Lessons for Leading in Crisis. Warren Bennis Signature Series. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2009. (ISBN 978-0-470-53187-7.) View Details
  3. Finding Your True North: A Personal Guide

    Bill George, Andrew McLean and Nick Craig

    Based on Bill George's bestselling book True North, this personal guide offers leaders a comprehensive method for identifying their unique “True North.” The book offers methods for personal reflection and includes targeted exercises that help leaders hone in on the purpose of their leadership and develop their authentic leadership skills.

    Keywords: Values and Beliefs; Leadership; Personal Development and Career; Motivation and Incentives; Personal Characteristics;

    Citation:

    George, Bill, Andrew McLean, and Nick Craig. Finding Your True North: A Personal Guide. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008. View Details

Journal Articles

  1. How to Outsmart Activist Investors

    Bill George and Jay W. Lorsch

    We offer opinions on how management and corporate boards of directors can best manage investor relations with activist stockholders such as hedge funds who are demanding major changes within a corporation to improve stockholder return. Beverage industry firm PepsiCo is cited in support of the contention that creating and maintaining a long-term strategic plan is of value in thwarting such investors. Executives and directors are advised to analyze their corporations from the point of view of an activist investor, to create harmony within the board of directors, and to measure performance against specific and publicly stated goals.

    Keywords: Investment Activism;

    Citation:

    George, Bill, and Jay W. Lorsch. "How to Outsmart Activist Investors." Harvard Business Review 92, no. 5 (May 2014): 88–95. View Details

Book Chapters

Cases and Teaching Materials

  1. Novartis: Leading a Global Enterprise

    William W. George, Krishna G. Palepu and Carin-Isabel Knoop

    Novartis, the world's leading healthcare company, was formed in 1996 out of a merger of two very different, mid-tier Switzerland-based pharma companies. The case traces the company's evolution over the past 17 years, as it transformed into a truly global enterprise with 127,000 employees of 153 nationalities in 140 countries generating $56.7 billion in 2012 revenues and $9.6 billion in net income, making the firm one of the world's largest and most profitable companies. CEO since 2010, Joe Jimenez had taken over from one of the merger's architects and visionary legacy CEO Daniel Vasella. He recognized that the global health care environment would create severe challenges for Novartis in the years ahead and that Novartis needed to make sure it had the right strategy, structure, talent and spirit to live up to its ambitions.

    Keywords: Multinational Firms and Management; Talent and Talent Management; Organizational Structure; Organizational Culture; Success; Globalized Markets and Industries; Management Teams; Change Management; Business History; Mergers and Acquisitions; Global Strategy; Health Care and Treatment; Pharmaceutical Industry; Health Industry; Switzerland;

    Citation:

    George, William W., Krishna G. Palepu, and Carin-Isabel Knoop. "Novartis: Leading a Global Enterprise." Harvard Business School Case 413-096, May 2013. (Revised October 2014.) View Details
  2. Omar Ishrak: Building Medtronic Globally

    Bill George and Natalie Kindred

    Omar Ishrak, Medtronic's first non-American CEO, aims to reinvigorate the medical device maker's growth by focusing on emerging markets, therapy innovation, and creative business models. In 2012, budget constraints in mature economies, the lack of new medical therapies coming to market, and the decline in growth of Medtronic's core businesses has reduced the company's once dynamic growth close to zero. As the newly appointed CEO, Ishrak faces the formidable challenge of restoring the company's growth. In his first 18 months as CEO, he has laid the groundwork for future growth by ramping up R&D investment in breakthrough therapy innovations. To bolster Medtronic's near-term prospects, he has supported creative product and business model innovations aimed at overcoming adoption barriers in emerging economies. Ishrak restructured his executive team and their responsibilities: the heads of Medtronic's global operating regions and major countries, who previously reported to the head of international, now report directly to the CEO, putting seven non-Americans on the executive committee. In another important milestone, Medtronic acquired a Chinese orthopedics company, which became its first fully integrated business unit outside the U.S. Ishrak is trying to decide whether these steps are sufficient to transform Medtronic from a multinational into a truly global company and restore its growth.

    Keywords: healthcare; medical devices; Medtronic; globalization; leadership; emerging markets; innovation; reverse innovation; Leadership; Multinational Firms and Management; Globalized Markets and Industries; Management Teams; Business Model; Emerging Markets; Global Strategy; Health Care and Treatment; Acquisition; Innovation and Invention; Manufacturing Industry; Medical Devices and Supplies Industry; China;

    Citation:

    George, Bill, and Natalie Kindred. "Omar Ishrak: Building Medtronic Globally." Harvard Business School Case 413-065, March 2013. (Revised May 2013.) View Details
  3. Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul: Building on a Diversified Base

    William W. George

    Since the 1970s, the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan region (MSP) had outpaced the nation in job creation and income per capita. MSP's diversified base of industry clusters had enabled the region to adapt to economic downturns and an exodus of major corporate headquarters, earning it the accolade "Minnesota Miracle." Starting in 2003, however, MSP lagged the rest of the U.S. in job ceation (see Exhibit 1). Alarmed business and civic leaders coalesced around a loose-knit group that congregated annually as the Itasca Project. In 2009 these leaders launched the Itasca Jobs Task Force, and its 2010 report set in motion a series of actions by groups of CEOs and politicians aimed at reversing these trends by creating jobs in all sectors of the economy. In the fall of 2011, however, it was unclear whether these efforts would achieve their intended results (see exhibit 2), or whether longer-term corrective actions in education and skills training would need to take hold first.

    Keywords: Minneapolis; Saint Paul;

    Citation:

    George, William W. "Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul: Building on a Diversified Base." Harvard Business School Case 412-074, November 2011. (Revised February 2012.) View Details
  4. The Big 3 Roar Back

    William W. George

    The "Big 3"—Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Chrysler—were all headquartered in Detroit, Michigan. Born between 1903 and 1928, they dominated the automobile industry in the U.S. for decades until they became complacent. In the 1970s they started losing share to better quality, more fuel-efficient foreign imports. By 2008 they were teetering, and two required federal government assistance to stay afloat. Within three years, remarkably, the Big 3 had turned around by improving competitiveness in quality, design, and cost. Ford's Alan Mulally, GM CEO Ed Whitacre, and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne took different approaches to guide their respective companies to improvements in product design, quality, and cost competitiveness that led to sales increases, solid profitability, and positive cash flow. From October 2010 to October 2011, GM, Ford, and Chrysler sales increased 1.8%, 6.2%, and 27%, respectively. GM and Ford reported strong profits and better-than-expected sales and agreed to pay bonuses to unionized workers as part of new contracts. The Big 3 were gaining market share—Ford was now handily outselling Toyota Motor Corp. in the U.S. after falling behind in 2007. Many saw the Big 3 turnaround as proof that a unionized manufacturing industry could be revived through strong, decisive leadership on multiple fronts and improved union relations.

    Keywords: Production; Labor Unions; Labor and Management Relations; Industry Clusters; Competitive Strategy; Auto Industry; Manufacturing Industry; Michigan;

    Citation:

    George, William W. "The Big 3 Roar Back." Harvard Business School Case 412-072, November 2011. (Revised June 2012.) View Details
  5. David Neeleman: Flight Path of a Servant Leader (A)

    William W. George and Matthew D. Breitfelder

    David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue, is forced to confront a crisis in customer confidence following operational difficulties on February 14, 2007. This becomes a vital test of his leadership.

    Keywords: Customer Satisfaction; Leadership; Crisis Management; Trust; Air Transportation Industry;

    Citation:

    George, William W., and Matthew D. Breitfelder. "David Neeleman: Flight Path of a Servant Leader (A)." Harvard Business School Case 409-024, November 2008. (Revised May 2011.) View Details
  6. Kent Thiry: "Mayor" of DaVita

    William W. George and Natalie Kindred

    Kent Thiry, CEO of dialysis provider DaVita, is considering how to integrate employees from recently acquired Gambro Healthcare without damaging DaVita's robust, unconventional internal culture. When Thiry joined DaVita in 1999, breaking an important promise to his family in order to do so, he was determined to create a differentiated company with a community-like culture. Over six years, he had engineered an impressive financial turnaround and successfully developed the strong culture he had envisioned. In late 2004, DaVita acquired arch-rival Gambro Healthcare, whose 12,000 employees would nearly double DaVita in size once the integration is completed in fall 2005. Confident that the deal makes business sense but worried about potential adverse impacts of the integration-especially in light of rumors that Gambro employees are suspicious of Thiry's authenticity and critical of DaVita's arguably eccentric culture-Thiry is considering whether to impose DaVita's culture on the new arrivals, or just allow Gambro to operate independently for a period of time.

    Keywords: Mergers and Acquisitions; Experience and Expertise; Employee Relationship Management; Leadership Style; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Organizational Culture; Personal Development and Career; Integration; Health Industry;

    Citation:

    George, William W., and Natalie Kindred. Kent Thiry: "Mayor" of DaVita. Harvard Business School Case 410-065, May 2010. (Revised May 2011.) View Details
  7. Daniel Kim's Dilemma (A)

    Bill George and Natalie Kindred

    Daniel Kim was considering "blowing the whistle" on his friend, the CEO of a fast-growing startup where Kim had spent most of his professional career. When Kim joined the company, called Cardio-Metric, in 2002, it consisted of seven young engineers (including its two 25-year-old founders) working from a one-bedroom Minneapolis apartment. By 2008, when the venture capital-backed company recorded $110 million in revenues, Kim had become close friends with the founders, who served as CEO and chairman. Cardio-Metric's success, however, concealed troubling internal developments. Since 2002, the CEO's management style had progressed from unconventional, to questionable, to egregious. Kim, Cardio-Metric's on-and-off CFO, had repeatedly confronted the CEO over his behavior-including charging large purchases with no clear business purpose to Cardio-Metric and presenting unrealistic financial projections to investors-but the CEO dismissed Kim's concerns and ordered him not to share them with others at the company. By April 2009, Kim believed the problem had grown out of control, and he was considering disclosing the CEO's actions to the board of directors and a team of external auditors. There was much at stake. Kim's disclosure would undoubtedly ruin his friendship with the CEO, endanger Kim's own role at the company, and even jeopardize the future of Cardio-Metric itself.

    Keywords: Ethics; Fairness; Corporate Accountability; Emotions; Behavior; Leadership Style; Governing and Advisory Boards; Corporate Disclosure;

    Citation:

    George, Bill, and Natalie Kindred. "Daniel Kim's Dilemma (A)." Harvard Business School Case 411-009, April 2011. View Details
  8. Daniel Kim's Dilemma (B)

    Bill George and Natalie Kindred

    Daniel Kim was considering "blowing the whistle" on his friend, the CEO of a fast-growing startup where Kim had spent most of his professional career. When Kim joined the company, called Cardio-Metric, in 2002, it consisted of seven young engineers (including its two 25-year-old founders) working from a one-bedroom Minneapolis apartment. By 2008, when the venture capital-backed company recorded $110 million in revenues, Kim had become close friends with the founders, who served as CEO and chairman. Cardio-Metric's success, however, concealed troubling internal developments. Since 2002, the CEO's management style had progressed from unconventional, to questionable, to egregious. Kim, Cardio-Metric's on-and-off CFO, had repeatedly confronted the CEO over his behavior-including charging large purchases with no clear business purpose to Cardio-Metric and presenting unrealistic financial projections to investors-but the CEO dismissed Kim's concerns and ordered him not to share them with others at the company. By April 2009, Kim believed the problem had grown out of control, and he was considering disclosing the CEO's actions to the board of directors and a team of external auditors. There was much at stake. Kim's disclosure would undoubtedly ruin his friendship with the CEO, endanger Kim's own role at the company, and even jeopardize the future of Cardio-Metric itself.

    Keywords: Ethics; Venture Capital; Revenue; Governance Controls; Governing and Advisory Boards; Management Style; Personal Development and Career; Problems and Challenges; Behavior;

    Citation:

    George, Bill, and Natalie Kindred. "Daniel Kim's Dilemma (B)." Harvard Business School Supplement 411-054, April 2011. View Details
  9. Anne Mulcahy: Leading Xerox through the Perfect Storm (A)

    William W. George and Andrew N. McLean

    In 2000, Xerox faces bankruptcy amid a liquidity crisis, collapsed profitability, and an expanding SEC investigation. Traces the career and leadership development of Anne Mulcahy, a former sales executive unexpectedly named COO of the beleaguered company as a last effort to turn Xerox around. Describes how Mulcahy assembles and motivates her team, frames her priorities, and fills her knowledge gaps in the face of critics doubtful of Xerox's ability to change. Raises questions in her mind about stakeholder priorities, employee motivation, difficult strategic trade-offs, and finding profitability while trying to avoid bankruptcy.

    Keywords: Organizational Change and Adaptation; Leadership; Financial Liquidity; Organizational Culture; Crisis Management; Insolvency and Bankruptcy; Gender Characteristics; Corporate Governance;

    Citation:

    George, William W., and Andrew N. McLean. "Anne Mulcahy: Leading Xerox through the Perfect Storm (A)." Harvard Business School Case 405-050, January 2005. (Revised July 2010.) View Details
  10. Philip McCrea: Once an Entrepreneur... (B)

    William W. George

    Philip McCrea is dealing with the aftermath of the move of his company and family from San Francisco to New Jersey (from the (A) case). Although the move goes well from a family perspective, his business runs into challenges when he merges it into a Canadian company and winds up with 30% ownership. McCrea eventually resigns and has to deal with his role in the failure of the company and the transition to the next step in his career.

    Keywords: Mergers and Acquisitions; Leadership; Failure; Ownership Stake; Work-Life Balance; Canada; New Jersey;

    Citation:

    George, William W. "Philip McCrea: Once an Entrepreneur... (B)." Harvard Business School Supplement 409-025, July 2008. (Revised April 2009.) View Details
  11. Martha Goldberg Aronson: Challenges at Mid-Career (B)

    William W. George

    Martha Goldberg Aronson of Medtronic is trying to decide whether to accept the offer from Medtronic CEO Bill Hawkins to become senior vice president and chief talent officer. Aronson returned from an executive role in Europe just 18 months before as vice president, investor relations, but sees herself as a fine executive. Thus, she is undecided about taking a senior staff position.

    Keywords: Decision Choices and Conditions; Job Design and Levels; Leadership; Managerial Roles; Work-Life Balance;

    Citation:

    George, William W. "Martha Goldberg Aronson: Challenges at Mid-Career (B)." Harvard Business School Supplement 409-030, September 2008. (Revised April 2009.) View Details
  12. Kevin Sharer at Amgen: Sustaining the High-Growth Company (B)

    William W. George

    Kevin Sharer, CEO of Amgen, is assessing the challenges he has faced as a major product came under regulatory scrutiny.

    Keywords: Governing Rules, Regulations, and Reforms; Leadership; Product Development; Biotechnology Industry;

    Citation:

    George, William W. "Kevin Sharer at Amgen: Sustaining the High-Growth Company (B)." Harvard Business School Supplement 409-037, September 2008. (Revised April 2009.) View Details
  13. Lisa Sherman (A)

    Bill George and Jens Audenaert

    The case of Lisa Sherman (A) describes a highly successful executive at Verizon struggling with whether to reveal her sexual identity. Having attended a diversity training workshop in which participants expressed extremely negative views of gays and lesbians, Sherman must decide whether to leave the company, reveal her identity as a lesbian and work within the system, meet with the CEO to share what has happened, or continue to remain in the closet while working at Verizon.

    Keywords: Behavior; Managerial Roles; Decision Choices and Conditions; Personal Development and Career; Gender Characteristics; Diversity Characteristics;

    Citation:

    George, Bill, and Jens Audenaert. "Lisa Sherman (A)." Harvard Business School Case 408-115, March 2008. (Revised October 2008.) View Details
  14. Lisa Sherman (B)

    Bill George and Jens Audenaert

    The case of Lisa Sherman (B) describes a highly successful executive at Verizon, who decides to leave the company because of the negative views of gays and lesbians expressed at a diversity training workshop, and her final meeting with Verizon CEO Ray Smith to describe the challenges she has faced. The case describes the actions that Smith took inside the company, and his decision to testify in front of Congress on the issue. It goes on to describe Sherman's highly successful career after leaving Verizon, and her work at MTV in launching the Logo channel.

    Keywords: Business or Company Management; Personal Development and Career; Retention; Resignation and Termination; Diversity Characteristics; Government and Politics;

    Citation:

    George, Bill, and Jens Audenaert. "Lisa Sherman (B)." Harvard Business School Supplement 408-116, March 2008. (Revised October 2008.) View Details
  15. Kevin Sharer at Amgen: Sustaining the High-Growth Company (A)

    William W. George and Andrew N. McLean

    Keywords: Leadership Development; Growth and Development Strategy; Management Style; Management Succession; Personal Development and Career;

    Citation:

    George, William W., and Andrew N. McLean. "Kevin Sharer at Amgen: Sustaining the High-Growth Company (A)." Harvard Business School Case 406-020, October 2005. (Revised September 2008.) View Details
  16. Philip McCrea: Once an Entrepreneur...(A)

    William W. George and Andrew N. McLean

    In the spring of 2005, an exhausted Philip McCrea, president and CEO of software development company VitesseLearning, reflects on the demands of his successful start-up and his desire to be closer to his growing family. Profiles the youth, career, family life, aspirations, and motivations of the founder and CEO. Provides information about the business' comparative advantages and strategic opportunities. Raises questions regarding work-life balance and the entrepreneurial satisfaction of running a successful service industry, IT-based start-up.

    Keywords: Business Startups; Entrepreneurship; Personal Development and Career; Family and Family Relationships; Opportunities; Motivation and Incentives;

    Citation:

    George, William W., and Andrew N. McLean. "Philip McCrea: Once an Entrepreneur...(A)." Harvard Business School Case 406-018, September 2005. (Revised August 2008.) View Details
  17. Xerox Corporation: Anne Mulcahy, Chairman & CEO - Video

    William W. George and Andrew N. McLean

    Anne Mulcahy describes the challenges she faced at Xerox during her last visit to HBS.

    Keywords: Corporate Accountability; Leadership; Operations; Personal Development and Career; Problems and Challenges;

    Citation:

    George, William W., and Andrew N. McLean. "Xerox Corporation: Anne Mulcahy, Chairman & CEO - Video." Harvard Business School Video Supplement 408-714, June 2008. View Details
  18. Anne Mulcahy: Leading Xerox through the Perfect Storm (TN) (A) and (B)

    Bill George

    Teaching Note for 405050 and 405065.

    Keywords: Financial Liquidity; Crisis Management; Profit; Leadership Development; Personal Development and Career; Motivation and Incentives; Knowledge Acquisition; Service Industry; Computer Industry;

    Citation:

    George, Bill. "Anne Mulcahy: Leading Xerox through the Perfect Storm (TN) (A) and (B)." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 408-101, February 2008. View Details
  19. Andrea Jung: Empowering Avon Women (A)

    William W. George, Diana Mayer and Andrew N. McLean

    In October 2005 Andrea Jung is coping with a 30% decline in Avon's stock price--the biggest test of her leadership since she became CEO in 2000.

    Keywords: Leadership; Price; Stocks; Crisis Management; Gender Characteristics;

    Citation:

    George, William W., Diana Mayer, and Andrew N. McLean. "Andrea Jung: Empowering Avon Women (A)." Harvard Business School Case 408-035, July 2007. (Revised January 2008.) View Details
  20. Oprah!

    William W. George and Andrew N. McLean

    Oprah Winfrey believed in sharing the experiences that shaped her development and enabled her to become the wealthiest women in the entertainment industry and first African American billionaire. Traces her childhood and entertainment career, drawing connections in Winfrey's own words between passages in her turbulent childhood, both beneficial and traumatic, that became keynote lessons for her talk-shop audience and later guided her business and philanthropic activities. Raises questions about the motivations behind a business career, the value of authenticity in leadership, and the origins of unique abilities.

    Keywords: Motivation and Incentives; Wealth; Leadership; Personal Development and Career; Gender Characteristics; Biography; Giving and Philanthropy; Entertainment and Recreation Industry;

    Citation:

    George, William W., and Andrew N. McLean. "Oprah!" Harvard Business School Case 405-087, March 2005. (Revised April 2007.) View Details
  21. Wendy Kopp and Teach For America (A)

    William W. George, Diana Mayer and Andrew N. McLean

    In 1995, Wendy Kopp, founder and president of Teach for America, faces a worsening budget shortfall and sharpening challenges from education experts concerning her organization's mission and effectiveness. Provides information on the leadership development of the protagonist, tracing her youth and education and the process of launching Teach for America. Raises questions about social entrepreneurship, organizational and leadership development, and sustainability of leadership.

    Keywords: Budgets and Budgeting; Education; Social Entrepreneurship; Leadership; Leadership Development; Mission and Purpose; Outcome or Result; Education Industry; North and Central America;

    Citation:

    George, William W., Diana Mayer, and Andrew N. McLean. "Wendy Kopp and Teach For America (A)." Harvard Business School Case 406-125, June 2006. (Revised April 2007.) View Details
  22. Howard Schultz: Building Starbucks Community

    William W. George and Andrew N. McLean

    In 2006, Howard Schultz reflects on his leadership at Starbucks in light of its continued growth plans. Provides information on the leadership development of the protagonist, tracing his youth and education, his early business career, his acquisition of Starbucks, and its subsequent massive growth. Raises questions about leadership styles, the role of a self-authored life story in leadership, and the qualities that attract, retain, and deploy complementary management talent.

    Keywords: Education; Biography; Leadership; Leadership Development; Leadership Style; Growth and Development Strategy; Personal Development and Career;

    Citation:

    George, William W., and Andrew N. McLean. "Howard Schultz: Building Starbucks Community." Harvard Business School Case 406-127, June 2006. (Revised April 2007.) View Details
  23. Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Young Minister Confronts the Challenges of Montgomery

    William W. George, Rick Buhrman and Andrew N. McLean

    As the Montgomery Bus Boycott starts, the young Martin Luther King Jr. faces challenges to his leadership goals, strategic vision, and personal and family safety. Makes extensive use of King's own words and writings and builds a portrait of a young, talented, and ambitious leader about to embark on a risky and new endeavor. Traces the development of King's professional goals, his theological and political education, his young family, and his nascent professional career. Raises questions about the role of fear and uncertainty, support networks, deeply held beliefs, and professional goals in leadership decision making.

    Keywords: Decision Making; Education; Values and Beliefs; Biography; Leadership; Personal Development and Career; Family and Family Relationships; Alabama;

    Citation:

    George, William W., Rick Buhrman, and Andrew N. McLean. "Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Young Minister Confronts the Challenges of Montgomery." Harvard Business School Case 406-016, August 2005. (Revised February 2007.) View Details
  24. John Whitehead: A Life in Leadership

    William W. George and Andrew N. McLean

    In 2005, John C. Whitehead, chairman of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. (LMDC), confronts the collapse of a delicate agreement among business, government, and public interests in rebuilding on the World Trade Center site. Provides information on the leadership development of the protagonist, tracing his youth and education, his military service, his leadership at Goldman Sachs and the State Department, his long involvement in philanthropy and nonprofit enterprises, and his chairmanship of the LMDC. Raises questions about leadership legacies and the application of different leadership tools across a range of tasks and environments.

    Keywords: Education; Construction; Giving and Philanthropy; Biography; Leadership; Leadership Development; Agreements and Arrangements; Nonprofit Organizations;

    Citation:

    George, William W., and Andrew N. McLean. "John Whitehead: A Life in Leadership." Harvard Business School Case 406-024, November 2005. (Revised August 2006.) View Details
  25. Narayana Murthy and Compassionate Capitalism

    William W. George, Shailendra Jit Singh and Andrew N. McLean

    Narayana Murthy's roles at Infosys Technologies--as a co-founder, longtime CEO, and nonexecutive chairman and chief mentor--has been marked by explosive growth, demanding management challenges, and widely lauded company leadership. His personal leadership philosophy has been articulated through and driven by his philosophy of "compassionate capitalism." Profiles Murthy's philosophy and leadership principles. Traces the development of Murthy as a child, scholar, businessman, and political and social activist. Traces the links between Murthy's principles and the business practices that repeatedly brought Infosys Technologies recognition as one of India's most admired and best managed companies. Raises questions in his mind about the place of philanthropic principles in the management of a business enterprise.

    Keywords: Business Ventures; Economic Systems; Ethics; Values and Beliefs; Giving and Philanthropy; Biography; Leadership; Business or Company Management; Information Technology Industry; India;

    Citation:

    George, William W., Shailendra Jit Singh, and Andrew N. McLean. "Narayana Murthy and Compassionate Capitalism." Harvard Business School Case 406-015, July 2005. (Revised June 2006.) View Details
  26. Richard Grasso and the NYSE, Inc. (A)

    William W. George and Andrew N. McLean

    In 2003, the New York Stock Exchange faces heated controversy over the pay of Chairman Richard Grasso. Traces Grasso's development and his success serving stakeholders while transforming operations at the world's largest exchange. Describes how Grasso's compensation and the NYSE's governance structure come under attack. Raises questions in the mind of the deeply split board of directors about stakeholder influence, corporate governance practices, performance and compensation, and retention of a high-performing-turned-controversial chief executive.

    Keywords: Financial Markets; Corporate Governance; Executive Compensation; Leadership; Performance; Financial Services Industry; New York (state, US);

    Citation:

    George, William W., and Andrew N. McLean. "Richard Grasso and the NYSE, Inc. (A)." Harvard Business School Case 405-051, February 2005. (Revised April 2006.) View Details
  27. Marilyn Carlson Nelson and the Carlson Companies Renaissance

    William W. George and Andrew N. McLean

    In 2005, Marilyn Carlson Nelson, CEO and chairman of the Carlson Companies, must decide whether to outsource jobs at the risk of destroying the culture centered on the values of integrity, trustworthiness, and caring that she had painstakingly created since becoming CEO of the family-owned company. Profiles the leadership development of the protagonist, tracing her career in business and civic associations, her youth and education, her leadership education, and her values and aspirations. Provides information on the business and history of Carlson Companies, including its company culture and management. Raises questions about the consequences of leadership decisions and the durability of company cultures.

    Keywords: History; Leadership Development; Job Cuts and Outsourcing; Business or Company Management; Organizational Culture; Personal Development and Career; Family Ownership; Leadership Style; Management Teams;

    Citation:

    George, William W., and Andrew N. McLean. "Marilyn Carlson Nelson and the Carlson Companies Renaissance." Harvard Business School Case 406-019, November 2005. View Details
  28. Tad Piper and Piper Jaffray

    William W. George and Andrew N. McLean

    In 2005, Tad Piper reflects on the successful spin-off from US Bancorp of Piper Jaffray, the investment bank founded by his grandfather. Profiles the development of Piper Jaffray from a Midwestern brokerage house to a national, diversified financial services firm. In 1994, a crisis in its mutual fund unit nearly destroyed the firm. Provides information about the protagonist's youth, career, family life, aspirations, and motivations. Raises questions about leadership in times of crisis, openness with stakeholders, and the value of showing vulnerability as an authentic leader.

    Keywords: Crisis Management; Leadership Style; Management Style; Leadership; Growth and Development Strategy; Financial Services Industry;

    Citation:

    George, William W., and Andrew N. McLean. "Tad Piper and Piper Jaffray." Harvard Business School Case 406-033, October 2005. View Details
  29. Martha Goldberg Aronson: Leadership Decisions at Mid-Career

    William W. George and Andrew N. McLean

    In 2005, Martha Goldberg Aronson must decide whether to accept an overseas posting in a functional role with Medtronic Corp. The move would be a professional stretch, but would entail leaving a position with a plan half completed and moving her young family overseas. Profiles the youth, career, family life, aspirations, and motivations of the rising executive. Provides information about the practical, personal, and business challenges of an international assignment. Raises questions regarding work-life balance and the opportunities of the proposed stretch assignment in balance with the desire to see an existing process through to completion.

    Keywords: Decisions; Work-Life Balance; Personal Development and Career; Motivation and Incentives; Opportunities; Leadership;

    Citation:

    George, William W., and Andrew N. McLean. "Martha Goldberg Aronson: Leadership Decisions at Mid-Career." Harvard Business School Case 406-017, September 2005. View Details
  30. Note on Why Leaders Lose Their Way

    William W. George

    In the seemingly never-ending revelations of corporate scandals that have been exposed since the fall of Enron, the media, politicians, and the general public have taken to characterizing such leaders as "bad people," even to the point of considering them evil. The rest of our leaders have become suspect, as corporate executives are tied for dead last with used car salesmen in terms of public trust. These overly simplistic notions of "good leaders" and "bad leaders" only serve to cloud our understanding of the nature of leadership in the business world and how good leaders can lose their way. Teaching Purpose: To outline how and why leaders lose their way.

    Keywords: Leadership; Problems and Challenges; Behavior;

    Citation:

    George, William W. "Note on Why Leaders Lose Their Way." Harvard Business School Background Note 404-126, March 2004. (Revised March 2005.) View Details
  31. Anne Mulcahy: Leading Xerox through the Perfect Storm (B)

    William W. George and Andrew N. McLean

    Supplements the (A) case.

    Keywords: Financial Liquidity; Insolvency and Bankruptcy; Profit; Leadership Development; Personal Development and Career; Motivation and Incentives; Service Industry; Computer Industry;

    Citation:

    George, William W., and Andrew N. McLean. "Anne Mulcahy: Leading Xerox through the Perfect Storm (B)." Harvard Business School Supplement 405-065, March 2005. View Details

Presentations

    Research Summary

  1. Research on Small Groups

    by William W. George

    Professor George recently completed a three-year study of small groups, in conjunction with Douglas M. Baker and Jane L. Cavanaugh. The output of this research was published as part of  his new book, True North Groups: A Powerful Path to Personal and Leadership Development (Berrett-Koehler, September 2011). These groups are an outgrowth of the Leadership Development Groups used in his course, "Authentic Leadership Development," in which 1,600 MBAs and executives have participated.
  2. Leadership Development

    by William W. George

    Professor George has completed his research study on leadership development, based on in-person, in-depth interviews with 125 business and non-profit leaders, over half of whom are chief executive officers. They range in age from 23 to 93, with thirty per cent women. As the result of this research study, his new book, True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership, was published in March 2007.

    Continuing his research on leadership development, he has developed a series of leadership exercises for individuals and groups to use in developing their leadership.  These exercises can be used in academic courses for undergraduates, graduate students, and executive education as well as in corporate education and training sessions.  This research has resulted in a new book, Finding Your True North: A Personal Guide, that will serve as a companion to True North and will be published in May 2008. 

    His current research focuses on the use of leadership discussion groups, with peer facilitators, to enable individuals to discover their authentic leadership and to develop themselves.

    1. Awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 2011 by St. Thomas University.