By January 10, 2019September 3rd, 2019Blog

Gravitas, a personal quality that inspires trust and respect in others, is almost impossible to fake. To achieve a presence that is persuasive and that exudes expertise can be learned but takes both directed training and deep reflection.

In her book Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success, economist and academic Sylvia Ann Hewlett described Gravitas as one of three pillars (the others being communication ability and appearance) that support who she calls ‘executive presence’, a killer-combination of poise, confidence and authenticity. In Hewlett’s study, the top aspects of Gravitas are:

  • Confidence and poise,
  • Decisiveness,
  • Integrity,
  • Emotional intelligence,
  • Reputation and,
  • Vision and charisma.

To enhance all these sounds like a complicated balancing act, but the key to Gravitas begins with developing your internal self-confidence and then forging a connection between this and your external body language. It’s about being outwardly self-assured but drawing that poise from an internal pool of expertise, confidence and knowledge.

Why it is important?

Vanessa Ugatti, The True Worth Expert, specialises in helping lawyers and accountants to take charge by understanding their value which, in turn, enables them to charge their true worth. Simultaneously, she helps them to create a beneficial work-life balance.

She draws a direct line between being consciously aware of your personal and professional qualities and understanding your value.

Self-worth, she maintains: is at the heart of everything you do and drives your behaviour. If your self-worth is low, then this will be reflected in your experiences in the outside world, regardless of how talented you are.

Subconsciously, others will perceive your lack of confidence including clients, prospects, colleagues and even family and friends which will then negatively impact on you in numerous ways.

The sting in the tail is that even though you may very well be aware of this, it is really not easy to change on your own. Take heart, though, as with external help and commitment, this can most definitely be overcome.

Improving self-worth, and as a result Gravitas, can make you more persuasive and more profitable – it can reassure and instil trust in your clients and can give you more confidence when deciding on and communicating your value.


External confidence without internal confidence underpinning it can lead to the appearance of arrogance, however it is important to show confidence as it is a key way of putting others at their ease. There needs to be congruence between what is happening inside with how you express it on the outside. It’s not about pretending to be or acting confident – you should be confident. Without that basis of confidence, a quality that comes from understanding your value, you will find it harder to show confidence externally in an authentic way.

How to achieve it?

So how do you do it? How do you tackle those deeply ingrained and unconscious doubts that weaken your self-worth and damage your Gravitas? Finally how do you ensure that your self-worth is externalised?

Vanessa Ugatti states that the belief ‘I’m not good enough’ is at the heart of most individuals’ unconscious problem. The unconscious mind is like a sponge: it absorbs everything we experience, but without judging it as good or bad – so repeated negative thoughts become beliefs, as do repeated positive thoughts.

Therefore, the key is to find a way to feed your unconscious mind positives instead of negatives, to focus on your abilities, turn your perceived inabilities on their head and to lessen the impact of the ‘I’m not good enough’ impulse. One way of achieving this is through coaching, firstly to understand your worth, and secondly to understand how to embed this understanding within your unconscious – how to, in short, ‘retrain your brain’.

What it looks like.

Once you have an understanding of your value then learning how to communicate your value is the next key step. Now you understand your value, it will be easier to learn how best to communicate this and in a business context find out the value of what you do for your clients.

It’s also worth dwelling briefly on how to help your self-worth come across in non-verbal terms and how having Gravitas changes the way you act:Gravitas Body Postures

  1. Mindset. You should be calm, focused and organised. If you are distracted your audience will be as well.
  2. Body. You should be relaxed but energetic. The energy you display will help focus your audience on what you are saying and instil trust in them.
  3. Posture. The way you position your body is critical – it should be relaxed, open and symmetrical.
  4. Voice. To persuade others, your voice should be steady and resonant.
  5. Eyes. Clear, direct and unwavering eye contact is an excellent way to reassure your audience that you are focused on them.
  6. Image. You need to stand out but you also need to find a balance between coming across as bland and coming across as overly extravagant. You should be individual and memorable but not distracting.
  7. Hands. You can easily come across as aggressive or negative through the way you use your hands. Ensure you keep your palms up and open to transmit honesty and integrity.
  8. Handshake. That first moment of contact is critical – it needs to be centred and strong without being overpowering.

Above all, your outward performance should be calm, relaxed and authoritative – drawing naturally from the work you have already done unconsciously. The way you come across shouldn’t be a mask or a front for something you lack, it should instead be an externalised reflection of your self-confidence.

Gravitas is a quality that has so many benefits in so many areas that developing it is central to improving the performance and profitability of your business.

It seems intangible and mysterious, but by developing a strong internal foundation of confidence and a sense of your self-worth, and then fine tuning it by becoming aware of how you come across externally, you will find yourself on the path to instilling confidence and trust in your clients.

For more information get in touch to find out how we can help support and develop your natural instincts towards your business through our online business development mentoring.