Gravitas ultimately boils down to how others perceive us – do we have it or not?
That was the point being made by one of the session facilitators, a celebrity sports commentator, at our Leadership Retreat in Goa many years ago.
The entire group of Managers who had been sponsored for this course hung on to his every word in rapt attention despite the session being a post dinner one.
The facilitator engaged with us over dinner and was amused with a story about me. He opened his session with a comment which roughly went along like this:
“Leaders who use position and authority can get only so far, you need to have that something else, the star qualities that people recognize. Anyone who can make the pilot wait for takeoff while she has her lunch shows she has it.”
We all laughed. He was referring to the inward journey of the Delhi Office Delegates who’d been stuck at the Airport for an entire day thanks to bad weather conditions in Goa and were merrymaking in the restaurant to pass time. We wanted to order lunch but were not sure when we’d be called for boarding our flight. I noticed some airline crew and walked up to them and on a dare requested them to ask the flight captain about estimated departure time and the need to satiate my hunger pangs and soothe the rumbling stomachs of 12 passengers.
A short while later, a member of the Ground Staff came to our table with a message from the captain for me that I could eat my lunch peacefully and the flight wouldn’t take off until he knew I’d had lunch.
Now that we were hooked, the session and learning experience started in earnest.
So what had I done that had caught the facilitator’s eye?
It was Presence, the topic of his session.
Presence speaks louder than words
Think about it. In any Group interaction, there is often that 1 person who stands out even if they aren’t the Group Leader. That person has presence and gravitas is being projected.
In today’s professional world, Executive Presence has less to do with charm or how tough we are but with how our actions are perceived in a highly stressful workplace.
It means our ability to be calm, confident and demonstrate that we are present or focused in the moment while being aware of the issues and concerns of other around us.
Gravitas is usually the 1 quality that prevents an otherwise talented professional from getting ahead in their career because leadership requires trust from the people you are meant to lead. Anyone can manage – for better or worse – but a true leader needs a trust buy-in otherwise they are doomed for failure.
Presence begins with self-confidence. When we connect with our own sense of personal power and our comfortable within ourselves, our natural authority shows and it’s easier for us to work with others rather than try to overcome others while working with them.
Mindset is important for developing Gravitas but it is equally important for us to demonstrate it with our bodies in a subtle manner. That WOW factor that others perceive, that moment when heads turn when you walk into the room.
To create that experience, we need to be grounded in our body and comfortable in our skin. Presence is experienced within our physical body before being projected outwards.
That’s where our body becomes our ally. In my ebook Stress Management with Chakra Balancing Exercises, I share exercises and meditations techniques for an overall mind and body workout for managing stress and feeling balanced. Those exercises will also help you create awareness about your body and self.
Root Chakra exercise – Grounding for Gravitas
For the purposes of grounding for Gravitas, we’ll focus on the Root Chakra or Muladhara Chakra. This is the first Chakra and the most physical one.
In principle, any form of physical activity that makes you more aware of your body helps, such as, exercise, running, yoga, walking the dog, stamping your feet, it helps.
This particular exercise will not only make you aware of your body but also strengthen the Root Chakra.
A word of warning: Please don’t try this exercise if you have a medical problem with your knees or have a preexisting ailment that can get aggravated. If in doubt, please consult your doctor before trying it. Also if this exercise makes you uncomfortable, please stop immediately. There are other less physical ways to strengthen your root chakra.
Here’s the exercise that doesn’t take too long but has tons of benefits.
Stand up straight and relaxed.
Keep your feet shoulder width apart.
Bend your knees slightly and put your pelvis somewhat forward.
Keep your body balanced and evenly distribute your weight on both feet.
Sink your weight downward as if you are pushing towards the earth.
Hold this position for a few minutes.
Notice how this position makes you more aware of your and how you feel more present.
You can take this exercise a step further by energizing your legs to bring more energy from the earth through your feet to energize your Root Chakra.
Standing in the position that I described above, inhale and bend your knees while visualizing that you are drawing Earth Energy upwards through your legs and into your first Chakra.
As you exhale, slowly push through the core of each leg and press down as if you are pushing the floor away and slightly straighten your legs. Make sure that you keep your knees slightly bended so that the energy is able to flow.
Repeat this movement for 1 or 2 minutes in a slow manner being aware of how your legs are moving.
You may experience tingling or trembling feeling in your legs and thighs. This is a sign that new energy is flowing into your body.
If staying focused is a problem, then consider using an affirmation like, “I am in here”.
When practiced on a daily basis, this exercise will help in making you more self-aware and grounded which in turn will help you think with clarity and feel more secure.
There are various components that go into creating Executive Presence and Gravitas and I’ve provided links in the section of additional resources but the best starting point is always our bodies and ourselves.
So practice this exercise every day to build up your sense of gravitas and develop your executive presence. In fact, do this in the privacy of your office or even in the WC before any important meeting or presentation whether live or online for a gravitas boost.
Then drop me a line or come back to this post and let me know if you experienced a difference. Or try it right now and share your experience with me. I’m waiting!
Additional resources to help you develop your Executive Presence
The below links comprise of blog posts and other information that will be useful for you. I invite you to check out each resource and choose those that are most helpful to you.
Learn more about how I can help you enhance your Executive Presence and Fast Track your next career move in 90 days here.
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