Greed is not good

The best leaders are "authenthic" ones, meaning that they have a good understanding of themselves and don't pretend to be anything else, said Bill George, former chairman and CEO, Medtronic and author of a new book on leadership.

by Knowledge@Wharton
Last Updated: 23 Jul 2013

They also ensure that they "empower" others to lead and initiate even if that means failure. At some point, people have to throw themselves into projects and initiatives and get experience.

Sometimes this may result in failure but that is only way to learn and gain confidence as a leader. Finally, good leaders understand that their role is to serve their organisation and its people. They don't allow themselves to get driven by the need for money. These people are "givers".

One good example is Jeff Immelt at GE who would not allow himself to sacrifice the organisation for personal financial gain. "If you were to offer Immelt a bundle of money to go to private equity, there is no way that he would do it." His aim is to build a "great organisation that can serve society and humanity".

When executives become overly obsessed about getting richer and richer, they invariably lose sight of the important leadership goals they should be aiming for.

Good leaders are driven by a searing experience in their life, a "crucible moment". For instance, Wells Fargo CEO Dick Kovacevich developed a friendly, small-town approach to service in his bank because of his experience growing up in a saw-mill town. There people lost jobs and no one went to college. He said he learnt more in a job working for a corner grocery store than at business school.

Bill George's 'Authentic Leadership': Passions comes from people's life stories
Knowledge at Wharton, March 2007
Review by Morice Mendoza

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