For more 20 years, Rob Cross has studied the underlying networks of effective organizations and the collaborative practices of high performers.
Working with more than 300 organizations and reaching thousands of leaders from the front line to the C-suite, he has identified specific ways to cultivate vibrant, effective networks at all levels of an organization and any career stage.
Through research and writing, speaking and consulting, and courses and tools, Rob’s network strategies are transforming the way people lead, work and live in a hyper-connected world.
Currently the Edward A. Madden Professor of Global Leadership at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, Rob is also the co-founder and director of the Connected Commons, a consortium of over 100 leading organizations accelerating network research and practice.
He has written over 50 articles for Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, California Management Review, Academy of Management Executive and Organizational Dynamics. His work has also been repeatedly featured in venues such as Business Week, Fortune, The Financial Times, Time Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, CIO, Inc. and Fast Company.
A graduate of the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce (where he later taught), Rob earned an MBA from UVA’s Darden School and completed doctoral work at Boston University. He met his wife Debbie while they were both at Darden, and they have two children, Rachel (currently attending Williams College) and Connor (currently attending Middlesex School).
Rob has become an avid cyclist, logging 100-150 miles a week with a group of similarly crazy old guys. He enjoys playing tennis, fishing and skiing with friends and family and is active in his church. Always willing to try new things, he recently began learning to play the guitar.
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What future-focused leaders say about Rob …
Rob is a true pioneer in taking organizational network analysis and in seeing its possibilities for leadership, innovation and talent management. His work on Collaborative Overload has been very helpful to us as we have sought to help leaders navigate the increasingly hyper-connected, always-on world of work. His commitment to us over the years as a thought partner and practitioner has been invaluable.
Rob has a unique ability to be both a credible subject-matter expert as well as a relatable human—and this isn’t always a balance that’s easy to strike! Ford began partnering with Rob several years ago, when our CEO and leadership team wanted to learn more about Collaborative Overload and working effectively within a global network. He instantly connected with our leaders and earned credibility with our HR team.
Rob Cross has distilled a significant body of scientific evidence and research on network analysis and made it practical and impactful for leaders at all levels. This impact is often within days, and it improves their own performance and well-being and allows the entire organization to operate with speed to drive (and scale) innovation through high-quality collaboration. I have seen this impact first-hand as we have partnered with Rob over the last 2 years.
Rob’s work has ushered in a whole new management science domain to help organizations better understand critical business issues and drive bottom-line impact through the lens of social capital evaluation. He has the rare ability of being able to conduct complex studies and then express his findings in a crisp, compelling and practical manner. His research has significantly influenced my personal views of how to position talent for optimal success.
Cigna’s emphasis on organizational and personal leadership networks has resulted in improved business operations, leadership pipeline development and talent effectiveness. These results have been amplified by the expertise and corporate acumen of Rob Cross, an essential element of our work in this space. Whether working with new Cigna leaders or executives working to establish ever-better business and workplace efficiencies, Rob has distinguished himself as a “must have” member of the conversation and team.
Rob’s twenty-plus years of academically rigorous research makes him the unmatched leader in understanding the personal and organizational strategies required to succeed in the emerging Connected Economy. Over my career, I have seen his presentation style and counter-intuitive insights mesmerize and energize the most executive C-suite teams.