LeadershipNow review of True North Groups

Originally Posted: LeadershipNow’s Leading Blog on December 8, 2011


You can’t do it alone. We often try to, imagining that we can see and know the things we need to know without the discerning eye of a outside point of view. Bill George and Doug Baker remind us inTrue North Groups that, “We need people around us to whom we can look for support and advice, who can help us develop as human beings. We need them to help us become better leaders in our work, our communities, and our families.” 

It’s easy to get off track. “Most of us know what our True North is, but we are constantly pressured from external sources to deviate from it. Or we are seduced by extrinsic rewards like money, power, and recognition that cause us to detour from our True North.” 

A True North Group is comprised of six to eight trusted peers who meet on a regular basis to discuss the important questions of their lives and to support each other during difficult times. At various times, each person in the group will serve as a mentor or coach to others. 

True North Groups are not just about having a place to go to help you with your challenges. Done well, a group will encourage you to make the necessary course corrections that will help you to avoid the avoidable problems we all can get ourselves into. Save us from ourselves so to speak. It’s also a place to share successes. 

At stake is our own vulnerability. Even if we are afraid of the idea, it’s not difficult to see the value in it. George and Baker have been doing this for decades and share to nuts and bolts of creating your own group. It begins with picking the right people and that may not include your close friends. It’s based on trust and a commitment to personal growth. The authors list the following characteristics of ideal group members:


Next steps include, Norming (establishing how the group functions), Storming(behaviors that may impede your group), Performing (maintaining and renewing your group) and Reforming (the need to restructure and start again). 

The appendix provides topics for discussion to get your group going and thinking in the right direction. You’ll also find Member Contracts, Ground Rules and other valuable resources for your own True North Group. 

    Trying to develop yourself as a leader on your own is risky. True North Groups are a way to grow as a human being and as a leader in an environment of trust, confidentiality, intimacy, affirmation, support and honest feedback.