diverse female leader standing in office setting
ATD Blog

We Need Healthy Leaders

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

The world is changing faster than our ability to adapt. That was true even before the planet was rocked by a global pandemic. But the COVID-19 pandemic rewove the very fabric of our everyday existence, delivering a decade of change in a single, terrifying spring. Today, whether you are trying to regain a sense of normalcy or gain a purchase on a new way forward, the prospect of unpredictable and rapid change hangs over every decision. Change, of course, is a constant state. But the rate of recent change casts in sharp relief the ever-expanding gap between the people we have inside our organizations and the people we need. The faster the world changes, the bigger the chasm becomes.

These changes require a fundamentally different kind of leader at all levels, complete with new values, mindsets, and behaviors necessary to ensure agility, adaptability, and accountability—leaders who know how to survive and thrive in a disruptive and accelerating world. We need an entire generation of healthy leaders to drive tomorrow’s engagement, innovation, profitable growth, and long-term value creation. In essence, leaders must be well to lead well.

There are five traits common to healthy leaders:

  • Grounded leadership
  • Conscious leadership
  • Healthy teams
  • Healthy change
  • Healthy culture

The First Trait of Healthy Leaders: Grounded Leadership

Being blown off-course is taxing and time-consuming. And the winds of change are coming at us from all directions. Even strong leaders have troubles under these conditions. They feel tossed and turned by the wind; afraid of taking responsibility, being wrong, or missing opportunities; or like they’re searching for a way out. They may be getting pummeled by challenges posed by the global pandemic, violent turns in the economy, or dramatic shifts in the marketplace. Or they may be feeling a change in atmospheric pressure inside themselves, assailed personally as well as professionally by the turmoil of doubt, uncertainty, or stress. You may even be that leader.

Healthy leaders stay rooted in an uncertain world. They stand their ground and thrive personally and professionally by developing deep roots of personal leadership that help them stay healthy and grounded. The six roots of grounded leadership are:


1. Physical health: Be agile in a fast-paced world.
2. Emotional health: Be tough and nimble in uncertain times.
3. Intellectual health: Be relevant in a complex environment.
4. Social health: Be connected in a digital world.
5. Vocational health: Be competitive in a demanding age.
6. Spiritual health: Be generous in a cynical world

The foundational trait of healthy leaders is their learned ability to grow and nurture each of these roots with balanced discipline. To learn where they are and where they need to go, healthy leaders embrace a journey of self-discovery, because they know intuitively (or have learned) that who you are drives what you do.

Rosen_ Healthy and Grounded Leader Figure.jpg

Healthy Leaders Are Higher Performers

Our Healthy Leader Assessment combines a psychological approach with behavioral parameters that measures a person’s leadership character and performance as gauged by who they are, what they do, and how they perform.
These are our findings:

  • Leaders perform significantly better when they score higher on the roots of healthy leadership.
  • The higher the score on leadership health, the better the leadership performance score as rated by bosses, peers, and staff.
  • Each area of health correlates highly with other people’s reports of a leader’s performance.

Rosen_ Research on Grounded Leaders.png
As shown in the graph above, leaders with higher health scores in all six major areas were also higher performers. Who you are truly drives what you do and how you perform. Being healthy and grounded is the first of five traits of the healthy leader.

How healthy are your leaders? Take the quiz to find out.

For a deeper dive, join me during the ATD 2022 International Conference & EXPO for the session, “5 Traits of a Healthy Leader: The New Employee Experience."

About the Author

Bob Rosen is founder of Healthy Companies International. He also is a CEO adviser, organizational psychologist, and author of several books, including Conscious: The Power of Awareness in Business and Life.

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