Deeply Grounded Leadership

What does it really take to uplevel into the executive ranks and be successful in today’s world?

Successful executive leadership will always require the basics:

  • Social and emotional skills,
  • An uplevel of one’s image or personal brand,
  • Gravitas that stems from the possession of knowledge and makes it possible to influence others,
  • And of course, the personal fortitude and strength to handle the load.

Yet, leaders in all types of industries are now realizing that far more is needed if they are to keep advancing in today’s rapidly changing, uncertain world.

Jerry Seinfeld, the comedian and apt observer of human nature, said recently, in essence, that the movie industry is a hot mess (my words, not his). The Emmy-winning star said he feels that ‘confusion and disorientation have replaced the movie business,’ citing his personal interactions with entertainment industry people, i.e. the top executives he deals with.

Confusion and disorientation are rampant everywhere–not just in the movie industry.

So, what exactly is in short supply today? What additional human capacity do leaders need?

Leaders need to be more deeply grounded. I particularly like this definition from Ezra Counseling:

“Grounded people are typically present-focused, self-aware, emotionally stable, and well-connected to their environment. They usually exhibit clarity of thought, emotional resilience, and a sense of inner peace.”

As a business and executive coach, observer and teacher, what I’m seeing is a shortage of wisdom and deep self-awareness. I’m noticing fear-driven responses instead of the depth of reflection needed for real solutions. I’m seeing leaders who are not willing to dig deep where change is possible. I’m seeing a jarring identity crisis for leaders and a search for meaning, clarity and even transformation.

  • One of the necessary capacities for the future is what teacher Mandy Blake calls deep resilience. It includes being able to rapidly come back to personal center when knocked off by unexpected events.
  • I have found that having a good support system of friends and people we can trust is also critically important.
  • Another capacity is to be intensely self-aware, operating from one’s values and what is often referred to as a sense of purpose.
  • And to be supported by the knowledge of the work we want to lead! Answering the questions – Why am I here? What is calling me to this job or to this place?

The Covid pandemic created a revolutionary push to transform our planet, institutions, businesses, governments and ourselves. It fostered significant change in the way we and organizations work It was a potent catalyst and real opportunity for personal growth and a new form of leadership development beyond the basics, one that fosters more intense self-awareness and clear intention.

A variety of activities can help us ground ourselves. Being in nature. Engaging in deep reflection. Partaking in honest conversations. Feeling our true feelings. Many individuals have turned to meditation and different mindfulness practices for clarity and inner peace.

The ability to explore who we are in order to increase self-awareness is a top leadership capacity.

Joe Pine, who wrote the book The Experience Economy and coined that term, introduced me to the word flourish. Flourishing isn’t about making money or building new buildings. It is about life. We can flourish by making our planet, businesses, employees, families, and ourselves more alive, enriching and successful.  Joe thinks our actual human purpose for being is to help mankind flourish.

In our challenge to ground ourselves deeply, we can apply the concept of flourishing to every decision we make as leaders.

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