Bill George is professor of management practice at Harvard Business School, where he has taught leadership since 2004. He is the author of four best-selling books: 7 Lessons for Leading in Crisis, True North, Finding Your True North, and Authentic Leadership. With co-author Doug Baker he recently published True North Groups.
Mr. George is the former chairman and chief executive officer of Medtronic. He joined Medtronic in 1989 as president and chief operating officer, was chief executive officer from 1991-2001, and board chair from 1996-2002. Earlier in his career, he was a senior executive with Honeywell and Litton Industries and served in the U.S. Department of Defense.
Mr. George currently serves as director of ExxonMobil, Goldman Sachs, and the Mayo Clinic and also served on the board of Novartis and Target Corporation. He is currently a trustee of the World Economic Forum USA and Guthrie Theater and a former Trustee of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He has served as board chair for Allina Health System, Abbott-Northwestern Hospital, United Way of the Greater Twin Cities, and Advamed.
He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2012. He has been named one of "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. Mr. George has made frequent appearances on television and radio and his articles have appeared in Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Fortune, Harvard Business Review, and numerous publications.
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, and honorary PhDs from Georgia Tech, Bryant University, and University of St. Thomas. During 2002-03 he was professor at IMD International and Ecole Polytechnique in Lausanne, Switzerland, and executive-in-residence at Yale School of Management.
He and his wife Penny reside in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Topic: America's Place in the World
Bill George: I think that can the U.S. recover ever its global leadership? The last seven years . . . It’s now 2007. The last seven years have been devastating for the United State’s position in the world. And it affects us in business; but it certainly affects us . . . when you go overseas, the disdain people have for the United States trying to be a unilateral force in the world. It doesn’t work. We have to go back to realizing that the only way that we can create a safer world, a better world, a more secure world, a more prosperous world is through collaboration. And to me, I’m very, very upset about our leadership – our political leadership – being so selfish and so unilateralist in their approach. And I think it’s harmed us greatly. And I’m hopeful we can get new leaders who will find ways to bond and collaborate with other nations to realize that, you know, everyone has a right . . . certain human rights, and we need to bring those forth around the globe. And I hope the U.S. can recover some of its position so it can once again become a force for good rather than a force for ill.
Recorded on: Jul 7 2007