4.22.11 Issue #476 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Nancy Haller, P.h. D.
Leadership Coach
McKenzie Management
coach@ mckenziemgmt.com
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Get Your “Gravitas” In Gear
Nancy Haller, Ph.D., Leadership Coach McKenzie Management

I recently facilitated a corporate leadership development program. In two separate conversations, two different participants told me that they wanted more gravitas. Having never heard the word, I was struck by the synchronicity and did some research.
Gravitas was one of the Roman virtues. Translated, it refers to dignity or importance. It conveys credibility. It commands respect. It is the weight and the authority you convey. When a leader has gravitas, s/he exercises good judgment about when to speak and when to listen. In truth, gravitas is the essence of leadership.

One of the keys to becoming a gravitas leader is realizing that your patients and your staff notice everything you do – or don’t do. Perhaps you overlook the significance of your words and gestures, but I assure you that it is your energy level that determines the atmosphere in your office. This doesn’t mean you need to be effusive or disingenuous. It does mean that you need to think of how you act and decide to be a positive role model. We all have bad days. When it’s a “dark day,” minimize the damage you impose. When leaders with gravitas don’t get the results they want, they look inward before flying off the handle. They know that most of the time they are part of the problem and that, through their actions alone, they could have altered the outcome significantly.

How do you command this very important position with the best intention and the highest of integrity? Remember that your employees take their cues, spoken or implied, from you - their leader. Your people look to you each day for direction, guidance and training. You are important to them. Unfortunately, many dental leaders don’t acknowledge or embrace this influence. They act as if they are just another member of the team with a different title. The title puts them in charge, yet they don’t understand the responsibility and influence that is required for gravitas.

Your title as “boss” does not give you respect. Gravitas must be earned through what you say and do, don’t say and don’t do. Think about a supervisor, mentor, teacher or sports coach you’ve had in your life that you respected and trusted. You had confidence in that person because they inspired you to grow and achieve. Keeping that individual in mind, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What made that person trustworthy?
  2. What did they do that you respected?
  3. What made you feel confident in their ability?

The most common answers are:

  • Keeps their word.
  • Follows-up or provides information about why they did not.
  • Open and approachable.
  • Helps others feel at ease and encourages them to bring out the best in themselves.
  • Listens. Shows interest and care.
  • Fair. Treats people equally.
  • Communicates clear information in a timely way.
  • Knowledgeable. Shares their experience and expertise with others so they learn.
  • Organized and focused.
  • Honest and direct. Polite. Avoids talking about others.
  • Admits mistakes.

Gravitas is how you create and lead a team with passion, integrity and excellence. It is influencing others with confidence, not arrogance. Secure leaders don’t have to prove themselves. They treat others with respect and foster collegial relationships with the people around them.

To be successful, you need to know how to lead and how to follow. Be open to suggestions from your staff, and be ready to listen to new ideas. Furthermore, make the effort to get to know the people around you. This creates a positive atmosphere that motivates, encourages and gives confidence.

Be aware of yourself. Monitor what you say and do, especially the nuances of communication, your non-verbals. Humans are sensitive to things like body language, facial expression, posture, movement, and tone of voice. Observe the impact you have on others by attending to how they react to you. Listen with your eyes and your heart as well as your ears.

Gravitas is the invisible quality of leadership. We know when people have it, and we know when people don’t. Get yours on!

Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at coach@mckenziemgmt.com

Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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