Where do I start? I have had feedback from leaders I have worked with, that I smile too much, fidget, talk too much and don’t have gravitas. This has come from many sources over many years. A few years ago I went on a short course on executive presence and the teacher used examples of Gravitas and we discussed leaders such as Julie Bishop. It’s not just her dress, but its presence without words, when she speaks she holds the room.
An ex colleague of mine Marina observed my restlessness and how distracting this was. She suggested a hypnotist. I was taken back as I did not believe in hypnotherapy, determined to address this consistent feedback I went and too my surprise the process built awareness and with awareness came the ability to control my movement. I am a lot better, and if I exercise and don’t drink too much coffee all is good! I don’t smile, unless someone says something funny, hard when you are a happy person! When I speak I ensure I don’t waffle, concise and to the point. I don’t talk too much, only when needed, a challenge when you are a chatterbox!
Over a year ago I was interviewing and a lady very smartly dressed she sat down and started talking, laughing at herself in a gregarious way. I was looking in the mirror and in an instant I understood, why I did not have gravitas. The impulsive talking, need to be liked and a laugh that would scare anyone, was a far cry from gravitas. The similarities were scary and as hard as it was to concentrate on the interview, I could not get pass the impact that the characteristics had on me. It devalued the individuals capability and made it difficult for me perceive her in the way she would have hoped.
Here is the dilemma, when we are not our true self, we feel we that we lack authenticity and that can also be perceived badly. I made a decision to change my behaviors and focus on building gravitas as I do not have anything to lose and I have a lot to gain. The journey is a good one and worth the effort. You have far more impact in business. When I prepare for a meeting with senior personnel I think of Julie Bishop.
What to practice:
- Sit still
- Smile at appropriate times
- Don’t transmit
- Leave your ego outside
- Answer questions,ask questions
- Active listening
- Dress the part
Key message: Practice Gravitas if you want to succeed in your career.