3 Ways Successful Leaders Stay Grounded


Being in charge of people, an organization, and the most important outcomes of that organization can be the most rewarding but also the most challenging of all roles.

Truth be told, there is no shortage of stress for leaders whether they are in charge of a team of two or a company of twenty. While heading a team at the workplace, they also have roles to play in their families at home and within their own social networks.

Yet the most successful leaders are those who have the ability to balance it all—to maintain a sense of passion and vision at work and to remain authentic in their personal lives.

This is what successful leaders do to stay grounded in the face of the many challenges of leadership:

They balance out their sources of motivation

There are two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Due to the nature of leadership, many leaders derive their motivation largely from extrinsic sources—from being praised by others, accumulating material possession, accomplishing more and more, or taking on more projects.

brainThese external factors are great and they offer personal validation. However, they are also very fleeting.

If you are no longer able to receive a large paycheck or people are no longer validating you as you wish they would, would you break? Would you lose your passion and your leadership vision in times of cutbacks or organizational adversity?

Grounded leaders are not only motivated by external elements; more importantly, they are driven by intrinsic values such as personal happiness, morality, and care for others.

Just because you care about your sense of inner happiness does not mean you are softie—it actually means that you are adequately self-aware to be able to conscientiously deal with challenges.

They have a strong support network

No man is an island; this euphemism has never been truer for leaders. More than anyone, a leader requires a trustworthy team of people that he can go back to for support during good and bad times.

A leader’s support network typically entails many people including a significant other, family members, peers, business advisors, mentors and coaches.

Without a network, it can become very difficult to effectively manage emotions, deal with difficult decisions, and lead with perspective.

Just knowing you are not alone is enough to give you the courage to go on with your work, knowing someone has your back.

They nurture their emotional wellbeing

To quote Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, emotional intelligence (EI) is the ‘sine qua non of leadership.’

While technical skills and intelligence are important to perform the job, Goleman found that:

Goleman’s five components of emotional intelligence include:

  1. Self-awareness– the ability to know your weaknesses, strengths, emotions, drives, and needs
  2. Self-regulation– The ability to control emotions and impulses and to channel them in a useful a way
  3. Motivation– The drive to achieve beyond expectations, regardless of the circumstances
  4. Empathy– The ability to consider other people’s feelings while making smart decisions
  5. Social skill– The ability to find common ground with others and then inspire them to move in the same direction

All five of these skills are extremely valuable especially when a leader is faced with a personal affliction and still expected to play the leadership role, and during work-related crises where your team still looks up to you to give guidance.

How to Stay Grounded

It is a time of great change—there are so many opportunities for entrepreneurial ventures, so many young people are getting into the workforce, and technology has broken seemingly insurmountable barriers. But it is also a time when the economic outlook is unstable and workplace dynamics are changing fast. There is a great need for leaders to practice habits that enable them to stay grounded in the face of all these good and challenging times. These grounded leaders are the ones who will be able to transition their teams to better times ahead.

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