December 28, 2007

Book Review - Authentic Leadership

Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value
Bill George
HD 57.7 .G458 2003

George's book is a manifesto for the need to bring values and morality back into leadership. In his introduction, he asserts that these characteristics have largely been lost in the current generation of leadership as individuals instead took opportunities for personal gain along their climb to the top. The first section of the book defines what George considers to be an authentic leader, explaining the characteristics that are found in these individuals and how they develop through their experiences. In the second section, he articulates a process through which these mission-driven leaders create values-centered organizations which focus on their customers. In the third section, he argues that customer and shareholder centered-ness is an advantage in the marketplace. He cautions that this is not an easy path, however, and provides some guidance on how problems and ethical dilemmas can be overcome. Finally, he looks at the overall success of authentic organizations, concluding that their focus on mission and values has allowed them to be led rather than managed or governed. In essence, he asserts that mission and authenticity is the critical difference between leadership and management.