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After spending a half hour with Bill George, Harvard Business School Professor, former Medtronic CEO, and Best-Selling author on a recent HuffPost Live segment to discuss #WhatsWorking among today’s top business leaders; it was not only observable, but also intuitively obvious that we aligned in our view of leadership.

After the show Bill responded to my social media comments, thanking and complimenting me for participating. This action helped solidify my impression of him as a true leader of people. See Bill George spoke to me, not about himself, and connected what we discussed with me personally, demonstrating the action of being a giver and also a strong leader. As Adam Grant points out in his book Give and Take, takers, and or fakers (fake givers), tend to use “I” predominantly in any discussion, choosing to keep the focus on their accomplishments, and what they did, without consideration for others. Whereas strong, sometimes-disagreeable givers win out in business again and again, and they outperform the cutthroat, and the narcissist, all the while giving to others and refusing to be a doormat or to shy away from the difficult decision. (So FYI, be aware and maybe stay away from takers and fakers so your actions can serve a greater purpose and are not wasted).

Bill George recently wrote on his blog about Target’s decision to partner with CVS and to close all of its Canadian branches. Noting how the CEO of Target, although relatively new to the position, integrated himself into the company, re-emphasizing communication and collaboration, and quickly refocusing the company back to its core businesses, Bill points out that the CEO had to be both people-centric while doing what was not only right, but difficult, and for the overall good of the organization.

Whether you are the CEO of an international corporation or a department manager in a retail store, the lesson is the same; stay focused on core values to guide your decisions, recognize and support your core business, empower your people to maximize their talents, respond rather than react, and provide clarity about the vision of the company. Because at the end of the day, sustainable success requires that you remember, as Bill George states, it’s all about people, and remembering to choose the important over the immediate.

-- mike

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