• Print

How Leaders Can Stay Grounded When The Ground Is Shaking

Wednesday 19 July, 2023
Unforeseen events like the COVID-19 pandemic have vividly shown how quickly the landscape can shift. Technological advancements, such as automation, artificial intelligence, and blockchain, disrupt traditional business models, requiring leaders to adapt. Trade disputes between major economies introduce uncertainties through tariffs and trade barriers; even within organisations, abrupt changes in company directions and strategies create seismic shifts that shake everything up.

When leaders struggle to stay grounded during turbulence, their heightened stress, anxiety, and tunnel views will hinder their ability to think clearly, manage emotions, and communicate effectively. And those emotional turmoil tends to create a ripple effect, impacting overall morale and well-being. They may likely make impulsive or reactive decisions driven by fear, panic, or uncertainty. Some may become defensive, blame others or circumstances, and avoid taking responsibility to innovate, which hampers their ability to collaborate, solve real problems, and damage relationships.

However, leaders who stay grounded during tough times can maintain clarity and focus. Being centred and composed, they can cut through distractions, noise, and emotional turbulence, making well-informed decisions based on a clear understanding of the situation.

They have the mental space to analyse information objectively, consider diverse perspectives, evaluate the potential impact of their decisions, and minimise reactive actions and impulsive choices. Staying grounded allows leaders to maintain a sense of balance even in turbulence. Such emotional stability empowers leaders to navigate challenges with composure, inspiring team confidence.


Leaders with a stronger foundation of personal core values and beliefs have guiding principles that provide clarity and direction when the ground is shaking and empower them with a sense of purpose, meaning, and stability during difficult times. And leaders who nurture their mental, emotional, spiritual and physical well-being can fortify their grounding and foster resilience and constructive stress management, which enhance their ability to handle challenges with stability and effectiveness.


By upgrading their inner operating systems, leaders can cultivate the skills and mindsets necessary to stay grounded when confronted with uncertainty. For example, you can:

Skills and mindsets necessary to stay grounded

  • Cultivate Self-Awareness 

    Self-awareness can be developed through practices such as mindfulness, journaling, or self-reflection via observing your thoughts, emotions, sensations, and triggers in different situations without judgment. This allows you to recognise patterns and consciously choose how to respond to challenging circumstances. So that when the ground is shaking, you will be able to pause, take deep breaths on the spot to calm your nervous system, bring your focus back to the present moment, take a moment to check in with yourself, and consciously insert a space between the shaking ground and your reaction.

  • Clarify Core Values and Beliefs

    Your core values and beliefs are the principles that guide your actions and decisions. The more clarity you get on these, the more stable foundation it provides for staying grounded amidst uncertainty. So that when the ground is shaking, you can see how your values align with the situation at hand. Consider the impact you want to make, the principles you won't bend, and your vision for the future. This reconnection helps ground you in your guiding principles and can provide clarity and stability in turbulent times.

  • Foster a Growth Mindset

    Embrace a belief that you can learn, adapt, and develop new skills, using positive self-talk to reinforce a grounded and resilient mindset that allows you to approach shaking the ground with resilience and optimism. So that when the ground is shaking, you can shift your perspective by reframing the situation more constructively, focus your energy on what you can influence, and look for opportunities for growth or learning within the challenge you're facing, which helps you maintain a sense of agency and empowers you to make wise choices.

  • Practice Gratitude and Self-Compassion

    Cultivate gratitude shifts your focus from what's lacking or challenging to what you appreciate and are thankful for. Recognising that you are doing your best in challenging circumstances by treating yourself with understanding, patience, and self-care, establish a routine that includes physical exercise, sufficient rest, nourishing meals, and activities that promote relaxation and rejuvenation. So that when the ground is shaking, you have the capacity to create a buffer against stress and anxiety, you would be able to treat yourself with care and empathy, acknowledging that it's normal to struggle or make mistakes, and provide yourself with the needed emotional support by cultivating such self-acceptance and inner strength.
By consciously focusing on these strategies and incorporating them into your daily life, your upgraded inner operating systems can strengthen your grounding and navigate the shaking ground with resilience and stability.

Author Credits

Ella Zhang, author of Upgrade: How to outperform your default self to gain your superpowers, is a strategic change maker, organisational development specialist and coach, who helps business leaders to tap into their inner wisdom to design and fine tune people strategies, form up individual and organisational habits to create value and purpose driven workplaces. For more information visit www.EllaZhang.com.au.
  • Print