Book Reviews

Iron-Sharpened Leadership

“Missing amongst the hordes of success-obsessed ‘rise-and-grind’ social media influencers are men of consequence—leaders who have not only succeeded at the highest levels, but done so when lives depended on it. Success for such men is not a status symbol, but a requirement. Major General John Gronski is such a man, and Leading With Success fills a considerable void in the self-help world because he understands that leadership is less about demanding respect and obedience than it is about displaying ultimate loyalty, camaraderie, and sacrifice. By the end of his Army career, he had led thousands of men through perilous circumstances, and all those men had gladly walked into harm’s way because they believed in their leader. This book expertly distills the Major General’s extraordinary life experiences into usable lessons for people from all walks of life working in every industry. When you are finished translating the book’s lessons into action, you will be giving fewer orders; instead, you will have transformed your own leadership presence into one that inspires people to regularly go above and beyond what is expected.” 

— Chef Robert Irvine, host of Restaurant: Impossible

"For those who have been in combat we always have a special place in our heart for those we shared that time with....John Gronski is one of those people.  His competence, commitment and compassion while leading the PA 28th BCT in Ramadi in 2006 will always remind me of what "right in a leader looks like."  In this book he sets down the traits and principles all leaders need to exhibit and execute every day.   Read and reflect then do what you can to personify these ideals as a person of character and virtue. You and your organization will be better for it."

— Robert B. Neller General USMC retired 37th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps

The never-ending supply of leadership books has been enriched with the release of [Iron-sharpened Leadership], which offers a clear recipe for organizational effectiveness and personal success. Pierced with vivid and meaningful storytelling, the book keeps the reader engaged and leaves with a comprehensive plan of action for those who are determined to enhance their leadership skills for the age of uncertainty.

— Giedrimas Jeglinskas

Assistant Secretary General for Executive Management at NATO and former Deputy Defense Minister of Lithuania

“Mentorship is a contact sport!” That’s just one of the many leadership observations offered by Major General John Gronski in his new book, Iron-Sharpened Leadership:  Transforming Hard Fought Leadership Lessons into Action. Gronski’s insights are not only for military leaders; leaders in every walk of life will benefit from his long experience in both military and civilian careers.  He uses his personal successes and failures to highlight practical leadership principles that will resonate with leaders at all levels.  A great book by a great leader. Keep this on your bookshelf for ready reference.

— Carter F. Ham

General, U.S. Army Retired

President & Chief Executive Officer, Association of the United States Army

"Gronski shines in his gritty and authentic look into leadership. I keep a copy of the book on my desk and you should too. Read it!"

— Wes Gray Ph.D., CEO of Alpha Architect, and former U.S. Marine Captain.

"Experience is the best teacher. The next best teacher is to learn from someone who has the experience(s) and is willing to share those experiences, so you can become a better leader. John L. Gronski Major General (USA Retired) is generous with his commitment to help all of us be more than maybe we even thought possible. With over 40 years serving in the military and his experience outside military life, John offers a unique perspective on how we can and must be better leaders. Based on those learning opportunities and from studying people like Viktor Frankl and many others, he offers us an outline we can follow to become the leaders we dream of becoming. I know John Gronski. He is a man who lives in the world of Competence, Character and Resilience. John tells us he will never give up his quest to become a better leader. I hope you feel the same as John. Start or add to your leadership journey with this wonderful book."

— Marty Wolff

Founding Partner in Business Builders Media LLC

When it comes to leadership, I can’t think of a better person to write a book than a United States Army Major General. I can only imagine the magnitude of situations where the application of Character, Competence and Resilience persevered. What is most engaging about this book is the cumulation of a life-long journey of experiences, challenges and accomplishments all wrapped into an exceptional book on leadership.

— Brandon Parker – CEO Assessments 24x7

I count myself fortunate to be able to learn from someone with such an extraordinary leadership story.  John’s wisdom and experience have positively impacted the leadership development for me, our men’s soccer team and the athletic department overall.  Anyone who desires to be a better leader will be sharpened by reading this book.   

 Charlie Grimes - Head Men’s Soccer Coach, Lebanon Valley College


John’s views on Leadership and what it takes to be successful are very inspiring.  From developing character through his three V’s approach…to his battle tested commitment to his team.  John has led a full life from which we can all learn.  Your life may not be as complex as a commander serving in a war zone; however, his values and wisdom will serve all well who read this book.  Ultimately, learning from his many examples of leadership reading this book will open you up to many new leadership concepts.  John’s insights are grounded in a wealth of experiences.  Enjoy the read as I did.

— Paul S. Spitale currently SVP Colt’s Manufacturing Co. and the author of “A More Valued Success” 


I can confidently say that John Gronski "gets it". He has "been there, done that", has led small and large groups, and has tested leadership concepts under devastating conditions. I would not hesitate to say that he understands leadership at a genetic level. Through his books, he connects with people and provides valuable guidance that helps others not only to lead, but to live. He lays out a valuable template for any existing or aspiring leader - and this book is well-worth learning. 

— Steven Willison

Senior HR Leader for large scale semiconductor technology


John Gronski is a talented Leader who has lived and practiced all that he describes in this excellent book.  I served with John Gronski in US Army Europe (USAREUR), 2015-2017, when he served as my Deputy Commanding General-National Guard.  I asked the Army National Guard to let me have John in USAREUR because I’d seen his infectious positive leadership and his team-building skills in action when he was the Commanding General of the 28th Infantry Division of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.  In USAREUR, he exceeded my greatest expectations and demonstrated a depth of strategic understanding, mental agility, moral courage, and selflessness that were essential to our mission in Europe.  I’m glad he’s taken the time and effort to share his experiences and insights with young leaders who aspire to lead large organizations and old leaders who are seeking inspiration and rejuvenation for their own organizations.

LTG (Ret) Ben Hodges
Pershing Chair in Strategic Studies

Center for European Policy Analysis 


Political and behavioral scientists, ethicists, and historians have identified values-based leadership as an important means to influence people, teams, organizations, political movements, and nations. In Iron-Sharpened Leadership, John Gronski draws insights from his life experiences in military and corporate contexts to explain how values forge the bond between effective leaders and their followers. Gronski elucidates the reader’s understanding of how such shared values can be shaped through principles of character development, competence, and resilience. This book provides aspiring leaders in business, education, faith communities, and the military with a practical toolbox for using values-based leadership to reach higher levels of moral development and effectiveness.   

— John J. Sosik, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Management and Organization, The Pennsylvania State University, Great Valley School of Graduate Professional Studies, Malvern, PA, USA


Historically, there was an issue within the mind of the Lithuanians as they were fighting for the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Kingdom of Lithuania, or the Republic of Lithuania – willingness to fight for the homeland and reluctance to write books. We could have written more about our military knowledge along with our military experience, like we did later, after WWI.

Our strategic Ally, United States of America, has a different approach. Knowing how to fight wars derives from the willingness to pass on the experience for future generations so that they are more efficient and learned. In this publication, future commanders will have a solid book of reference and knowledge passed on by proven combat leaders, which the author, retired U.S. Army Major General John Gronski is.

His distinguished service is meritorious to Lithuania and to all of Europe as well. I truly believe in his competence and sincere aspiration to help others to continue learning and growing as better leaders. I wish the readers of this book to take all of the valuable lessons from its intelligent and combat-proven author – a true leader and our brother-in-arms.

— Chief of Defence of the Republic of Lithuania Lieutenant General Valdemaras RUPŠYS


John Gronski’s first book took readers on a cross country journey with a young couple that covered 4000 miles by bicycle.  His second offering, Iron-Sharpened Leadership, is a reflection on lessons learned across the world over nearly half a century in the military sector and civilian life.  As he writes, “Good leaders learn from their mistakes.  Great leaders pass on their experiences to add value to others.”  Anyone in any profession will benefit from Gronski’s wisdom and willingness to share his deep and impactful knowledge.  

— Joel Goldberg

Baseball Broadcaster, Speaker and Author


During MG (ret) Gronski’s illustrious career, he has made more leadership decisions than most people experience in a lifetime. Through his life journey, he illustrates personal experiences on how his mistakes and vulnerability have made him a stronger leader and the action steps he took to succeed and accomplish his missions. Not everyone is born a leader, but after reading this book you will be well prepared to lead your team into battle and succeed.  

— Alex Archawski (Navy Veteran) |  President of Sales Evolution LLC | Founder of Veteran Shark Tank and Greater Philadelphia Veterans Network

The Ride of Our Lives

"The Ride of Our Lives, Lessons on Life, Leadership, and Love" is an inspirational story about a man and his family on a transformational journey as they bicycled across the United States. It is a powerful story about the resiliency required to overcome challenges.

In 1983 John and Berti Gronski and their 15-month-old son Stephen set off on a bicycle tour across America. There were no ubiquitous mobile phones, no internet, no email, Google, or social media sites. The closest thing to connectivity was a payphone along a dusty road. John pulled Stephen in a bicycle trailer that resembled a pioneer's covered wagon. They traveled over 4,000 miles from Washington state to Pennsylvania. The trip was filled with adventures and enduring leadership lessons.

"From Homer's Odyssey to Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, tales of travel, adventure, and self-discovery have always fascinated people. Likewise, John Gronski's The Ride of Our Lives regales readers with an inspirational and engaging story of a young family's cross-country bicycle trip that results in a life-long formation of character, family values, patriotic service and citizenship, and unshakable faith. Gronski skillfully weaves into his captivating story a wide range of military leadership principles, faith-based truths, and life lessons that serve as guideposts for the reader's own moral development. This book is a must read for all people interested in learning how one family's experience shaped their notion of character-based leadership through their encounters with and embracing of the best life has to offer."

— John J. Sosik, Ph.D., Professor of Management and Organization, Penn State University, Great Valley School of Graduate and Professional Studies, Malvern, PA.


Today I read “The Ride of Our Lives” by Major General (Retired) John Gronski, former commander of the 28th Infantry Division.  I highly recommend it.

In this book, MG Gronski recounts a months-long bicycle trip he took with his wife and firstborn son Stephen in 1983, when Stephen was under two years old.  They cycled from Fort Lewis, Washington to General Gronski’s hometown in Pennsylvania after he left the regular Army and prepared to join his family’s business.

MG Gronski presents a compelling narrative full of interesting anecdotes.  He writes in clear, concise, declarative sentences, making the story easy to follow and comprehend.  The conclusion is solid — a recounting of the life lessons General Gronski and his family took from their bike trip.  The book isn’t very long — I completed the Kindle version from start to finish in one reading this morning.

“The Ride of Our Lives” is well worth checking out.


This book was a delight to read. There are life lessons scattered throughout the story that would benefit people of all ages. I highly recommended this book for anyone who wants to be entertained or needs a little nudge to try something new in life.


A pleasant and delightful read that left me feeling all the emotions as this courageous couple ventured across the US. This book has a great story that is intertwined with life lessons for anyone, of any age or stage of life. A must read!


An inspirational story full of timeless lessons. Decide to undertake your adventure! My favorite quote, “It’s people, not things, that nurture our souls”.


What an amazing story! The adventure that John and Berti embarked on, and the challenges they needed to overcome will prevent you from being able to put this book down!