Leadership in Strategy Consultancy is very important. That is, gravitas, a quality that most great and memorable leaders have. It’s a way of speaking, a way of thinking and how you hold yourself. But essentially, gravitas is more than just a word – it’s a state of being. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of being taken seriously, and how it seems to be more of a curse than a blessing. A person with gravitas has earned respect from others for their unique personality and character traits, but also carries the burden of being seen as someone who takes life too seriously.
Executives, especially leadership in strategy consultancy, want to ensure that they will be able to rely on a candidate in the future. This means they want to make sure that you can handle pressure and make tough decisions. So, they look for someone who has a lot of experience and is capable of acting as a leader. When interviewing, executives look for someone who can hold their own in sometimes difficult or unprecedented situations, deal with headstrong stakeholders, tackle problems calmly and make tough decisions.
The ability to influence others is key. Without gravitas you sometimes appear unprofessional and incapable of performing your job. So, it’s not just the words you use but also your tone, presence, body language, facial expressions, attire and confidence that are all being subconsciously scrutinised by your audience.
While it may take time to increase your dominance and authority, there are a number of things that can be worked on to improve executive presence. Start by projecting a calm aura around you. Always speak with conviction and show high energy whenever you’re talking with someone in a position of authority. Also, don’t underestimate the power of humor! A good joke will never go wrong, but make sure you’re not cracking jokes too much – it will come off as immature.
Eliminate “um” and “ah”
It is often said that one of the biggest mistakes a speaker can make is “um” and “ah”. In fact, there are many top Toastmasters clubs whose members have a friendly competition to see who can get the lowest “um” and “ah” count on a speech. Some of the most skilled speakers even keep a running total for every speech.
Confidence is the key to success, not arrogance.
Those who exude gravitas are not the ones who boast their credentials the loudest, but let their excellence shine through. A very common mistake is to be overly self-promoting – remember that whilst you want to be taken seriously, you also need to display strength of character and be known as someone who has genuine integrity.
You can’t play a part unless you look the part.
What you wear is just as important as what you say. It might not be the first thing that people notice about you, but it’s a close second. A well-tailored suit makes a strong impression. You don’t have to buy a new one – a trip to your local tailor can make a big difference. And a good haircut, a crisp tie, and a pair of polished shoes can make all the difference.
A good personal brand is essential to success in modern business. However, it is important to focus on building your executive presence in order to establish credibility and be taken seriously. Before worrying about your online reputation, try presenting yourself in person in smaller, less prestigious organizations or groups.
If you are interested in learning more about how Oaktree can help you secure your next strategy role or at least improve your gravitas, please reach out to us or drop your CV here.