Leadership Gravitas

16 Mar 2016

Do you have what it takes for the top job? Gravitas!

 Recently I came back from a meeting where one of my friends said, ‘You heard that guy speak? There’s nothing to what he says! But if I say the same thing they won’t listen. If he says something it becomes gold. It’s all image and luck I tell you!’

This is a common refrain among a lot of people, including myself. We are perpetually in awe of people who have greater presence and pull compared to us. And sometimes, out of sheer frustration, we put it down to ‘image’ and/or ‘luck.’

But what we call image and luck is actually a conscious product that’s been carefully calibrated over a long period of time. It’s a combination of body language and saying the right things at the right time.

The word commonly used for this is ‘gravitas’.

In the last few blogs we have been defining and describing the important traits required in a person to succeed. They are talent, self-confidence, grit, conviction and courage. But is that it? Do you have what it takes to get the top job?  Does your leadership have gravitas?

What’s gravitas? It is a very heavy word which literally means ‘weight’ in Latin.  What does gravitas look like in the leadership context? How can one develop this critical factor in leadership?

Gravitas, put in simple terms means the ability to influence.

So, do you possess gravitas? Do you have executive presence? Are you considered an authority in your subject matter? Do people listen to you when you speak? Are you able to engage and influence others?

These questions are a vital part of what it means to be a leader, not image or luck related.

These are a bunch of internal and external personal qualities that result in gravitas.

Internal qualities that contribute to gravitas are – self-esteem, self-confidence, self-worth, grit, conviction and courage.

External qualities and the more subjective ones that contribute to gravitas are appearance i.e., personal grooming, communication skills, body language and emotional intelligence one displays.

The last part is the person’s knowledge which is irreplaceable.

So, if I were to summarise, what are the few things we can do to improve gravitas:

1. Improve on your communication skills and presentation skills. Get a speech coach to ensure that you get rid of the fillers like ‘hmm ah’, ‘really’, ‘exactly’, ‘brilliant’ and ‘having said that’ that you use regularly in your conversations. These are merely distractions and don’t add value to your conversation. Learn to make precise, impactful presentations.

2. Invest in personal grooming.

3. Invest in a smart wardrobe. It is important to have a personal dressing style, but it is even more important to dress appropriately and dress right.

4. Stay fit and in shape.

5. Develop body language that is positive. Get your friends to point out everything that is wrong with your body language and gait. Get a friend to help you get rid of habits that are effecting you.

There is no quick fix for developing inner gravitas. It takes time and modulation.

People who pursue true gravitas are able to balance the external and the internal factors. They are as solid inside as they are outside. 

 About the Author:

Sandhya Reddy is a leadership & transformation coach based in Bangalore, India. She is the Founder and Principal Coach at Chapter Two Coaching, a coaching consultancy that enables everyone from CEOs to work-from-home parents to achieve their goals by replacing self-imposed limitations with enabling stories.

Many of us in our thirties experience a disquieting realization: what brought us to middle-management may not take us to senior-management. This is true. To chart a new career path, one needs to think and do things differently. This is where Sandhya can help. She is a coach. Life coaching, executive coaching, business coaching, personality development, leadership coaching… they are all part of her forte. Her Executive coaching programs helps tomorrow’s leaders set new goals, make new plans to achieve those goals, get that elusive promotion through a blend of knowledge, action and image-building, enhance influence among the leadership team, be more productive, get more out of one’s team, and be known in the company as an indispensable performer and future leader.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *