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Developing Executive Presence through Grit, Grace and Gravitas
8 years, 1 month ago Posted in: Newsletter Articles 0

Jane and Andrea draw from their past research and practice experiences to provide executives with new insights and improved skills in personal leadership, developing and guiding their people and driving increased operating results.

Their “three G model” — Grit, Grace, and Gravitas describes three critical qualities of leadership excellence including executive presence, relationship intelligence, and the ability to inspire teamwork and followership.

A program based on the framework and tools of Grit, Grace, and Gravitas is customizable to interested leaders in corporations and businesses of any size.

Their book is in progress…

Why is it that only a small number of people, even among high potential groups, become exemplary leaders and stand out above the rest? What is present in the leaders who do? Over the past 30 years of executive development experience, we have observed that truly effective leadership is the result of an individual’s development of skills in three critical areas — Grit, Grace and Gravitas.

While there are no recipes to follow, no one size fits all, there are sound development strategies that leaders can use to evolve the quality, substance and value of their leadership that shows up in their executive presence. What follows will draw back the curtain to provide insight into the qualities and behaviors of these three critical distinctions.

How is Grit a powerful aspect of exemplary leadership? Grit is essential in making tough decisions and having the difficult conversations that are an essential part of achieving an organization’s strategic objectives. It allows us to see beyond obstacles and opposition and identify possible ways to innovate and move forward. It helps us empower others to recognize and take effective action in the face of breakdowns and challenges.

Grit begins with vision, innovation and decisiveness. This includes eliminating confusion and hesitancy and knowing when to stop talking and take action. Grit requires strategic focus and constructive persistence. This involves an understanding and acceptance of the uncertainties of risk, facing critical issues and communicating with transparency and relevance. Grit is also about dedication, boldness, commitment and courage. It involves standing up for what matters. And lastly, it is about resilience, power and possibility in the face of resistance. Grit helps us melt resistance, including our own.

The energy of Grit is one of commitment informed by toughness — a core of inner strength. Grit is not intolerance. It is not about being demanding in ways that intimidate, dominate, bully or manipulate others. Grit provides toughness that is up to the challenge, that faces difficult people and situations not by imposing one’s will, but rather by providing an approach, from a clear and certain place, that opens a way forward for all to benefit.

Why is Grace important to exemplary leadership? It is Grace that helps a leader understand his or her perspective, feelings and needs, as well as those of the men and women they lead. Grace accounts for a leader’s ability to inspire others, and is essential in generating strong partnerships. The energy of Grace is useful in transforming emotional content in a way that neutralizes turmoil and allows everyone to remain constructive in the face of challenges. Grace is about having a respectful and constructive influence.

Grace begins with a clear understanding of identity, values and purpose. Knowing who we are, what we stand for and what matters is what brings meaning and purpose to leadership. Grace is about equanimity and constructive intent. It calls for our own mental calmness and composure. Grace is about dealing well with our own emotions and reactions as well as the emotions and reactions of others. It requires us to work in a spirit of partnership and shared accountability. Grace is about transforming emotional content to remain aligned and forward objectives. Grace accounts for our ability to inspire those we lead. Qualities of humility, generosity, and empathy reflect an absence of arrogance.

Exemplary leaders are masterful in choosing what is permitted to occupy their attention. The energy of Grace is about being present in a way that places full attention on people and issues that are strategic and critical in the present moment. It is not about leaders allowing their attention to be hijacked by all the things clamoring for their attention. Instead, as leaders strategically select their focus the energy of Grace invites the higher quality of work and collaboration that comes when a leader speaks and listens with full, undivided attention.

What part does Gravitas play in exemplary leadership? Gravitas forms a foundation for generating trust and credibility. The development of mastery begins with a clear sense of one’s evolving depth and breadth of knowledge and experience and how that is then conveyed through one’s demeanor. Gravitas is conveyed in our bearing, demeanor and presence. It is an expression of the knowledge and experience we bring that makes us credible in our role or field. The energy of Gravitas is not self-contained, or only self-referent. It includes an awareness of what one doesn’t know. It operates with open curiosity and a respect for inquiry. Gravitas is about being someone others know they can count on and someone who follows through on promises. Gravitas includes a leader’s integrity and trustworthiness; where values and behavior are congruent, ethical and honorable. The Gravitas of excellence in one’s role and profession also involves one’s voice, carriage, dress and demeanor. It’s about speaking in a way that forwards the action and invites connection, and it’s about dressing in a way that is role-appropriate. Gravitas brings an overall grounded and focused presence that inspires trust and followership.

Gravitas is about recognizing when it’s time to change course. The energy of Gravitas requires a leader’s flexible resolve. When the unexpected calls for strategic regrouping, flexible resolve is about remaining open to input and evidence and adapting to the changing directions and needs of the organization and its stakeholders.

Each of the three G’s generates a specific type of energy that drives behavior. How leaders approach their roles and responsibilities can be beneficially shaped by their choice to harness and balance the energies of their Grit, Grace and Gravitas. A leader can choose to deliberately cultivate a balance of the three G’s, and have the benefits show up in his or her presence.

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