William W. George

Professor of Management Practice

Bill George is Professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School, where he has taught leadership since 2004, and the former Chair and Chief Executive Officer of Medtronic.  He is 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 Minnesota’s Destination Medical Center Corporation, World Economic Forum USA, and the Guthrie Theater.  He has served as chair of the board 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 is a member of National Academy of Engineering and has received honorary PhDs from Georgia Tech, University of St. Thomas, Augsburg College, and Bryant University. 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.

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
  1. TRUE NORTH GROUPS

    True North Groups The challenges we face these days are so great that we cannot rely entirely on ourselves, our communities, or our organizations to support us and help us stay on track. We need a small group of people with whom we can have in-depth discussions and share intimately about the most important things in our lives. True North Groups, written with co-author Doug Baker, demonstrates why True North Groups are critical to helping us develop the self-awareness, compassion, emotional intelligence, and authenticity required to be inspired human beings and inspiring leaders. "At various times a True North Group will function as a nurturer, grounding rod, truth teller, and mirror. At other times the group functions as a challenger or an inspirer. When people are wracked with self-doubts, it helps build their courage and ability to cope." For the millions of people who are searching for greater meaning and intimacy in their lives, this book will help them to grow as leaders and as people—and to stay on course to their True North.