Book review: Authentic Gravitas

Rating: 2 out of 3.

Have you ever asked yourself what does that person do to get the attention of everybody in the room? Why are they so respected (and even sometimes admired)? It can’t be experience or role because other colleagues with similar experience or role don’t have that impact. So what is it? And what can you do to have that same effect?

Dr. Rebecca Newton talks about the topic of authentic gravitas in her book “Authentic Gravitas. Who Stands Out and Why”. She provides many examples of how she has successfully achieved this with her clients.

According to Dr. Newton’s book, gravitas is a skill that can be learned regardless of age, position or experience. Some important things that people with authentic gravitas do are:

  1. Be aware of the gap between their desired intention and the impact caused
  2. Be courageous (this translates into confidence)
  3. Be mindful of others and connect with those they interact with
  4. Be vulnerable and ask for feedback
  5. Be curious and genuinely interested in others
  6. Be disciplined to adopt new habits in line with the impact they want to have

Dr. Newton provides many practical tips to adopt the above behaviours, many of them common to known practices in the field of personal or professional development, but explained in her own way.

During this past week I practiced one of her tips, that is asking myself her “golden question” ahead of any important interaction:

How do I want the people I interact with to think, feel and act as a result of this encounter with me?

I must admit, I felt different in that I was more aware of the situation I was walking into, I was more mindful of those in the room and I felt more in control. On the flip side, I now feel unprepared and vulnerable when I don’t do this.

I particularly liked how she makes constant references to studies worldwide made by professors experts in the relevant fields and links their results back to what she has put in practice with her clients.

I also enjoyed reading about her clients: executives in big international firms, achievers that are thriving in their careers. One would think they have it all figured out, but as it turns out, they are just like everybody else. They have the same desires and questions as many of us: how can I make the impact that I want?

All in all, this is an easy book to ready through with a wealth of valuable tips to put in practice in your workplace. This could be a reference book for those that want to have a bigger impact in their roles but are not quite sure of what to do.

The take home message is that if you want to have authentic gravitas you should ask yourself regularly and reflect on the following: did I add the most value that I could today?

Next, I’ll be reading “Man’s search for meaning” by the famous Viktor E. Frankl

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