Grounded: How Leaders Stay Rooted in an Uncertain World – Bob Rosen
Bob Rosen graduated from the University of Virginia and holds a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Pittsburgh.
Rosen teaches in executive education programs, and is a faculty member in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at George Washington University’s School of Medicine.
Curiously, this information appears nowhere in the book, but only on his website, www.bobrosen.com. This book sits within the suite of Rosen’s consulting offerings of assessments, newsletters, a blog and a toolkit.
Sixteen endorsements under the heading ‘Praise for Grounded’ begin this book, even before the title page appears. As a fellow consultant, I know the importance of confident self-promotion. However, this prominence is unnecessarily self-serving.
The motivation for this book
Rosen makes the good opening point that who you are (the hidden foundation) drives what you do (the outside appearance). His integrating model recognises six elements of a ‘healthy leader’ – physical, spiritual, emotional, vocational, intellectual and social, which is an approach consistent with other holistic frameworks.
However, the execution is weak and adds little to the science or practice of leadership. Grounded reads like a series of interviews with or observations of his key clients, including Alcoa, Polo Ralph Lauren, Proctor & Gamble, Ford and Yum!. Despite a few notes in each chapter, this is not a serious book on leadership. The model is useful, even if much of the text is idiosyncratic to his own American consulting examples. The transferability of this narrative is questionable.
For a book on groundedness, there is only a cursory look at authenticity and, surprisingly, there is virtually nothing on values. Rosen seems unaware of the increasing literature on leadership signatures or manifestos.
Stephen Covey’s 8th Habit (The Free Press, 2004) and The 3rd Way (Simon & Schuster, 2011) are better holistic approaches towards leadership, and Peter Northouse’s Masterful Leadership (Sage, 2013) is more useful on leadership theory and practice.
While Grounded is a worthy account of Rosen’s albeit substantial experience of leadership and his obvious knowledge of his clients, there are better alternatives in this field.