The Art of Gravitas
The personal connection between people is more precious during a pandemic when meeting in person is impossible. More importantly, You appreciate how people make you feel, the emotional and human connection. Making a good impression is so important. So how do you do that?
One of the key qualities of a leader is “gravitas” in order to be able to influence and challenge people to push themselves, and deliver the seemingly impossible breaking the status quo. Extraordinary times require perseverance to find solutions to problems. We need leaders with the confidence and vision that generates trust in others to solve difficult problems in stressful circumstances. Similarly, we need to connect better with people and anything that helps in that is valuable.
A formula for success
I was intrigued by the book “Gravitas” by Caroline Goyder which is a very practical book. It helps the reader understand how to deliver their knowledge and skills with passion and purpose.
As it’s an area where I want to improve so I can be more effective in my work and personal life. It’s a book that I find myself re-reading and listening to again and again on Audible. I love the down to earth approach and the very practical exercises to improve in each of the key areas.
Roots and wings
The key to having gravitas is being authentic with who you are. We need to be rooted in our own unique gifts and talents but have the courage to sprout wings and stretch ourselves.
The book starts by defining the difference between how our mind works in “thinking” (analysis) head and “feeling” (empathy) heart. Likewise, we need to be aware of the differences and switch between the two so that we can deliver ideas passionately that people understand.
There needs to be flexing between feeling/passion with fact/thinking. This enthusiasm and energy inspire people to work with you to solve the project or problem you are working on.
The leader with gravitas uses their emotions and enthusiasm to focus on the essence of the challenge. Such a person needs to have a strong grasp of emotional and collaborative intelligence. This flow is contagious and inspires everyone to solve the problem.
“One can not lead a life that is truly excellent without feeling that one belongs to something greater and more permanent than oneself.”Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi share about the importance of “flow” to find true happiness.
The author, Caroline Goyder summarises these ideas by these basic formulae and suggests different characteristics you need to work towards to improve the level of gravitas.
In summary, gravitas reveals you subtly so people can understand your ideas.
I like the fact that it is not about perfection or showing yourself as someone with all the answers. It is about being authentic showing your strengths and weaknesses warts and all. Inspiring others with complementary strengths and weaknesses to come and fill the gaps. The book then goes on to explain each of these areas and how you can demonstrate your strengths in each of these areas.
Knowledge (Head) – What you think
For example to illustrate your knowledge in a particular area some thoughts to bear in mind
- Are you expert and authoritative in this subject?
- Can you present a clear message?
- Are you clear and well-paced in your delivery?
- Do you take your time and trust your expertise rather than rushing to get through things.
- Use pace that is appropriate to the content, try and gauge your audience response do you need to slow down or speed up?
I find these ideas inspiring and challenging at the same time. I find myself thinking how can I present what I know in my head in an effective way. Sometimes its clear in my head but I find I don’t present it well in my speech so these principles help me to think about how to do that better.
Purpose (Soul) – What you believe
Its really important to have a purpose beyond the every day.
- Have a sense of your own moral values that drive common purpose?
- Do people trust you?
- Are you being yourself, inner and outer worlds in tune?
- Credibility and authority ?
- Compassion and warmth?
This is key to me a job is not just a way of earning money or providing for my family. It’s more about does it serve a bigger purpose in the world am I improving as a person each day and using my gifts and talents in an effective way.
Passion (Heart) – What you feel, your passion
Having something that makes you want to get up every morning makes even the most stressful situation manageable.
- Do you care about what they are saying?
- Are you kind and empathetic?
- What makes you feel emotional excitement?
- Do you breathe deeply when you speak or do you hold your breath?
- Do you breathe deeply when others speak (mirror breathing).
It sounds strange to talk about breathing but actually, this is a key secret. Caroline Goyder shares the example of a police officer who before confronting a stressful situation takes time to breathe deeply. It allows time to focus to evaluate before reacting and leads to better results.
Anxiety and self-consciousness
However having passion, purpose, and knowledge can be sabotaged by nerves and anxiety. So you need to learn how to manage these emotions to be effective in sharing your message and using your talents effectively.
- Are you calm and in control of yourself?
- In anxious/stressful moments can you bring others back onside?
- Do you have your ego in control and practice humility.
- Can you accept the perspectives of others and listen to new ideas?
- In a stressful situation can you work with others?
- Do you see yourself as equal to others and acknowledge them?
- Do you deal with challenges gracefully?
- Can you push back gracefully and empathetically in moments of conflict?
If you can do all this combine knowledge, purpose, passion, and control of your anxiety then you can truly be confident you have gravitas.
I have not done justice to Caroline Goyder’s book in this post but I hope that you will consider reading or listening to it and be encouraged to be the best you can be.