As the engine of recovery gets moving cracks hidden by a flat economy will start to appear, and companies whose leaders have not adapted to the challenges of an increasingly complex business world will fall behind. Those that have will forge ahead.
Despite this warning Bob Rosen, speaking to IEDP recently in London, is optimistic. Bob an organizational psychologist and renowned advisor to CEOs around the world has observed many successful leaders who have adapted and believes there is an emerging model for leadership that can succeed today.
In Grounded, his sixth book, he presents a holistic template for 21st century leadership based on his wealth of experience and long-term research. Liberally illustrated with stories of successful leadership, from the New York Fire Service and Kinshasa Symphony Orchestra to PricewaterhouseCoopers and Proctor & Gamble, the book offers managers, at all levels, the means to become more energized, decisive, resilient, inclusive and self-aware; attributes that can help them and their organizations find the higher purpose that is essential to driving success.
Fundamental to Rosen’s belief is the idea that the traditional model for corporate leadership is broken and we need to “flip the paradigm”. True leadership comes, not from a focus on what we do and (often short-term) results, but from a focus on who we are as ‘grounded’ individuals. Who we are drives what we do. To address this new paradigm Rosen suggests that leaders must develop six facets of personal ‘health’: physical, emotional, intellectual, social, vocational, and spiritual health.
Physical health is about how we live: body-mind awareness, energy management and lifestyle. Emotional health concerns how we feel: self-awareness, positivity and resilience. Intellectual health concerns how we think: deep curiosity, adaptive mind-set and paradoxical thought. Social health touches on how we interact: authenticity, building rewarding relationships and nourishing teams and communities. Vocational health is about how we perform: meaningful calling, personal mastery and drive to succeed. And finally Spiritual health, underpinning all of the above is about how we view the world: global connectedness, generosity of spirit and finding a higher purpose.
Massive disruptive changes across society and specifically in the business world have left too many business leaders ill-equipped to spark change and innovation or to contend with the management issues they face. To be successful leaders need to change and adapt. And we need them to if the business community is to find solutions to the many problem faced by the modern world.
The 'nature vs. nurture' question arises here: can leaders really change? Fortunately, as discoveries from neuropsychology, tell us people are not only hardwired for positive emotions but human nature is adaptable and very capable of change. Rosen’s optimism stems from this observation and because he has seen many truly grounded CEOs who have adapted; though as he disarmingly admits “Some people claim to be self-aware, they may be, but they happen to be jerks.”
Grounded: How Leaders Stay Rooted in an Uncertain World, by Bob Rosen, is published by Jossey-Bass, 2014, ISBN 978-1-118-68077-3