Obstacles to exuding the quality of gravitas are some of the greatest psychological barriers that leaders and emerging leaders must conquer. Briefly, I’ll mention what leadership presence or gravitas means. It is giving weight or importance to anything you say or do. Gravitas is the highest octave of self-confidence. Once a leader has enough self-confidence, she can deepen her impact by developing gravitas. Gravitas is a quality that a leader exudes because she chooses to say and do only what is important. Others grant her respect and pay particular attention to what she says and does because she knows that she adds weight or value to any situation in which she speaks. I have written about the factors that can be integrated to develop gravitas. Today, I write about the obstacles to exhibiting gravitas as a place to start to tackle barriers to leadership presence.
There is natural resistance to experiencing and expressing gravitas. That resistance to gravitas boils down to not fully giving value to yourself, your thoughts, feelings and knowledge. It probably comes from a cultural belief that one should not let oneself feel too important. Parents often advise children not to be so “full of themselves”. In order to express gravitas, you must have full authority from inside your body, mind and being, meaning you must trust yourself to source answers to problems from within.
There are several obstacles to exuding gravitas that must be erased from your consciousness. First, you must give up self-judgment about your emotions, thoughts and knowledge. Any sense of inferiority has to be rooted out so you have room in your consciousness to value all those aspects of your life. Secondly, you have to release the expectation of judgment from others. As long as you are concerned that others will judge you, you will be too tense to exhibit gravitas. Of course others will judge you, that is a fact of life; but your worry about their judgment will interfere with your ability to contribute your real value to others. You must be able to put your stake in the ground and stand up for the one thing you know and believe is best.
The third obstacle to gravitas is wanting to please others. Pleasing people will cause you to adjust your behaviors to try to give them what they want, rather than what you really have to give. No authority there. Feeling pressure from within your self and from others are the fourth and fifth obstacles to gravitas. You must learn to live without pressure, releasing pressure from within yourself to perform or respond too quickly and releasing the feeling of being pressured by others to perform or respond too quickly.
All of these obstacles to gravitas come back to not valuing your own self as a resource for others. They all create tension mentally and physically. Tension is the enemy of gravitas. The more relaxed you become, the more you can take your time to source from within what to do and say and the more others value your contributions.
If you are seeking to develop more confidence and gravitas, please look at my article on self-talk as a place to start to tackle obstacles.