I’ve been hearing the word “gravitas” a lot lately. Gravitas – poise under pressure, strength of character, self-esteem, confidence. It’s described as hard to define but visible to the naked eye. And, there’s debate about whether it can be learned or if it’s just part of the package – (or not).
Often I work with people to build what’s called in my world “executive presence.” And according to author Sylvia Ann Hewlett and research by the Center for Talent Innovation, the biggest contributor to mastering executive presence is developing gravitas.
In my experience, a key part of the equation is that word confidence. Yet we’ve all known people whose seeming over-confidence was a turn-off. So what’s the relationship between presence (executive or otherwise) and confidence?
Confidence might be a prerequisite for external presence, the thing that attracts and influences others. Is that surprising? Let’s look at what destroys our ability to show up, focus on the matter at hand, listen and respond.
- We are not present when we worry. Worry is almost always a condition of projecting the past onto the future, or simply making up stories of what the future might hold. Presence means we embody “now,” confident that the past has passed, and the future holds promise – within our creative control.
- We are not externally present when we’re feeling negative emotions. People who have strong external presence can fluidly move from an emotional state to an objective state. The stamina to step outside and look in surely requires the confidence to trust what we might see.
- We are not present when we are focused solely on ourselves, unless we happen to be alone and without any other inputs. It takes confidence to face whatever inputs show up.
Can we learn to muster more of it? Oh yes, if Angelou could, we simply must.
This post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a blogger. Enjoy it!