Executive presence’s key building block, Gravitas

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Originally a Latin word, Gravitas meant the weight of character. It was an essential trait for leaders in ancient Greece to have Gravitas or a weightiness of character.

Today it is our ability to command respect from others. Gravitas contributes almost 62% to building a high executive presence.

Gravitas is not the way you look, but the way you work.

While some may naturally have it, it is a skill and like all other skills, it can be acquired by understanding the drivers and taking consistent action.

What are the key drivers of gravitas?

There are three key drivers of Gravitas:

  1. Grace under fire

Grace under fire is our ability to remain calm when faced with a tough or stressful situation. Examples include facing a difficult client situation, taking a difficult message to client, critical questioning when sharing an idea, open disagreement by a client, sharing.

As your point of view is opposed, you listen and ask leading questions that allow others to see your point of view naturally.

Grace under fire builds credibility. It establishes you as a leader both within the organization and in the eyes of your client.

  1. Emotional Resilience

Emotional Resilience is our ability to be aware of emotions of ourselves and the recipient of the content and make them comfortable with ourselves.

There are two key elements of emotional intelligence when it comes to building Gravitas. The first is being in control of your own personal emotions. The second is your ability to be able to read the emotions of a room. Both play a critical role in helping build gravitas

  1. Vision or charisma

Vision or charisma is our ability to lead people forward by making a goal inspirational, aspirational and real. Charisma is built when we rise above common arguments. Connect to the larger purpose of the engagement allows you to step above the transactional elements to the direction that a task needs to be taking.

Charisma is built when we help keep the environment light. An ability to smile no matter what the situation. Usually, in our busy ness, this gets forgotten leading to a loss of gravitas. A timely joke, especially a sharp one liner always helps establish you as a leader, use it well.

Charisma is built when we are generous to others in giving compliments and credit.

What are some gravitas blunders?

Shared below are some common Gravitas blunders that you may want to avoid. Watch out for these especially in a critical conversation

  1. Flip-Flopping

This is changing from one idea to another very fast or casually. Flip flopping is also seen when you jump between solutions without pausing to give a single idea strong weighting. People find it difficult to follow changes very fast and lose the line of thread.

  1. Shallow/ Light weightiness

When the knowledge of your content is poor, not worked to the last details and you start struggling beyond the basic questions. It is also seen when you are not able to take decisions yourself and need to check with your manager repeatedly.

  1. Social improprieties

There are several social improprieties that we may have for example sexual or racially powered jokes even when said with no intended malice, poor appearance or table manners, wet hands among several others. All of these lead to poor gravitas and through it, poor executive presence

  1. Inflated ego

An inflated ego, even an unintended impression of it impacts gravitas. Most of the times it comes when you come from a position of superiority and talk down to your team or clients. Sometimes, the ego may not be there, however, an aloofness or not engaging with people at a personal level creates an impression of ego. Small talk and other connecting actions help lose the impression of ego.

  1. Lack of integrity

Lack of integrity, especially in small commitments or words destroys gravitas completely. Examples include not getting back by the time a certain thing was committed. Denying previous commitments etc. While there may not be a short-term impact, in the long term, these have a negative impact.

How may gravitas be built?

  1. Surround yourself with people better than you
  2. Give credit to others, lots of it
  3. Show humility at every stage
  4. Smile a lot
  5. Take a higher plane in an argument
  6. Question, do not defend
  7. Know your emotional triggers and do not allow them to control you
  8. Practice, a lot

Gravitas is a skill. It is not an inherent born quality. Pick a specific area, practice it till it becomes a natural part of you. At Greenlatte we help executive leadership develop this key skill. If this is of interest, call us at +91 98190 48886 or eMail us at vivekslaria@greenlatte.co.in


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