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  • Linda R. Taliaferro

Are Gravitas and Charisma the Same Thing?


I believe that a strong executive presence is made up of three things: gravitas, communication, and appearance. I've gone into deeper dives on all three things separately, but essentially I think that a sense of gravitas is the most important one of the three.


Having gravitas is about having a strong presence in the room.


A person with gravitas is the person you want in the room when things are chaotic or stressful. That calm, steady, decisive presence that gives everyone the sense that everything will be okay.


They can speak with authority even if they're not the highest-ranking person in the room, and they communicate clearly and effectively, re-routing anxiety into action. The influence of someone with gravitas is the ability to shift the dynamic of a room into a more productive direction.


It's honestly amazing to see gravitas in action, which is why I think it counts for so much when creating an executive presence in the workplace.


If you go out looking for definitions of gravitas, you might see people talking about a sense of charisma. Now, I think what people mean when they throw that word into the definition is that people with gravitas have that power to influence the tone of a conversation. Their presence itself is influential.


But personally, I don't think of that as charisma. Charm has nothing to do with gravitas because charm is about delight and attractiveness. Even without physical attractiveness, charming people can certainly influence a room, but that charm is centered around their own powers of entertainment.


A person with gravitas can influence people around a common goal. Delightfulness isn't a factor. The key to charm is delight, but the key to gravitas is emotional intelligence. Gravitas relies on a sense of personal accountability and social awareness to leverage the strengths of a group and mitigate the weaknesses. It requires self-awareness and personal accountability.


That sense of awareness and responsibility is essential because people with gravitas aren't organizing people around themselves, but around a greater goal. So a higher mindset is essential.


I think that's why executive presence is an increasingly sought-after trait in today’s working professionals. The ability to organize people and motivate them to set their egos aside, put their heads together, and get the job done is very nearly priceless.


Despite the name, executive presence has nothing to do with being at the top of an org-chart. These qualities of calm, focused, accountability can be cultivated and exercised at all levels of the corporate ladder, and you don’t need an expensive suit or a fancy laptop to get it.


If you’d like to increase your gravitas and level up in your workplace, you might benefit from a one-on-one with me. Click here and sign up for a free consultation, and let's get started!


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