Harvard Professor William George Addresses Pepperdine Students and Alumni | Pepperdine University | Graziadio Business School

Harvard Professor William George Addresses Pepperdine Students and Alumni

Bill George at the Dean's Executive Leadership Series"It’s particularly pleasing to come to a
business school that up front and very
openly talks about values-centered
leadership," Mr. George commented.

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The Graziadio School was honored to host William George, professor at Harvard Business School and former CEO and chairman of Medtronic, Inc., as the guest speaker at the Dean’s Executive Leadership Series on April 10, 2007.  During the pre-event reception, Mr. George signed copies of his recently published book, True North:  Discover Your Authentic Leadership, the follow-up to his best-selling Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets.

An Authentic Leader

Mr. George has proven his leadership throughout his career.  At Medtronic, a world leader in medical technology, he grew the company's market capitalization from $1.1 billion to $60 billion.  He was also named Executive-of-the-Year by the Academy of Management in 2001, and was selected as one of "The 25 Most Influential Business People of the Last 25 Years" by PBS Nightly News.

Now teaching leadership development at Harvard, Mr. George adamantly encouraged Pepperdine students and alumni to practice what he calls “authentic leadership” and asserts that the greatest leaders are those who are true to themselves. 

“Leadership is about being yourself.  No one can be authentic by trying to emulate someone else,” he said. “We need to empower people to be who they are.”  He also suggests that business leaders give others in their organizations the opportunity to lead at every level, and to build on strengths rather than “fix” weaknesses.

In Praise of Values-Centered Leadership

Bill George book signing at the Dean's Executive Leadership SeriesBill George signs copies of his recently
published book.

Mr. George applauded the ethics taught at Pepperdine.  “It’s particularly pleasing to come to a business school that up front and very openly talks about values-centered leadership.  I think that’s something we really need in our country today.”

He added, “What do you want people to say about you at your funeral?  You really want them to say that you made so much money that your daughter and your granddaughter never had to work a day in their lives?  Or do you want them to say that you left something behind for other people, you did a little good in the world, you helped raise a good family? It’s time to think about those things now.”

The event concluded with a one-on-one exchange with Dean Livingstone followed by a question-and-answer period with the audience.

The next speaker in the Dean’s Executive Leadership Series will be Kawanna Brown, managing partner and chief operating officer of Magic Johnson Enterprises.  Ms. Brown will present on May 22 at the Drescher Graduate Campus in Malibu.