Leaders: Get Serious and be Taken Seriously

Leaders: Get Serious and be Taken Seriously


Are you leveraging language to reinforce your leadership brand and image? Or are you inadvertently conceding power through weak phrasing or ineffective body talk/posture every time you speak, write, or communicate? Leaders are only as strong as their executive presence, and if you don’t exhibit a powerful center of gravity you risk being perceived as a lightweight.

Gravitas was one of the main virtues highly valued in ancient Rome, a culture known for its educated thinkers, eloquent public speakers, and legendary leaders. But these days gravitas or seriousness and grave demeanor is often conspicuous by its absence. People oftentimes try to use humor or irony instead as the foundation of their communication style and voice. Some have a knack for being sarcastic, while others know how to lead with a great joke.

Personally I think that sarcasm usually impedes communication instead of moving it forward. But I have to agree that humor is a powerful tool. Open with an ice-breaking joke and you can disarm a defensive audience while simultaneously drawing them in and engaging them. After the laughter subsides, though, what do you do to keep their attention? What I’ve noticed is that too many leaders lack the gravity necessary to inspire others. If you don’t communicate seriously, can you really expect others to take you seriously?

When a highway patrolman pulls you over there is no doubt, no hesitation, and no lack of confidence in his voice, demeanor, or choice of words. You will never hear him say, “Hey, whassup? I was wondering if you would mind maybe showing me your license and registration.”

No. He assumes command and takes the lead by using serious, no-nonsense communication facilitated by words that have weight and power. There’s no irony insinuated – just clear-cut messaging without any fluff or room for misinterpretation, confusion, or misunderstanding.

Leaders, listen up! If you want to inspire the respect and command the attention of others, incorporate gravitas into your communication style. You’ll immediately project your leadership energy into the room. Meanwhile your internal identity as a leader will get a boost. You’ll feel more poised and confident inside – where being grounded pays huge dividends in terms of generating genuine executive presence and persuasive influence.


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Sarah Hathorn is a leadership development mentor, executive presence coach, image and branding consultant, public speaker & author. She is the founding CEO of her own successful company, Illustra Consulting, and the creator of the proprietary Predictable Promotion™ System.

1-800-267-3245 | www.illustraconsulting.com

Copyright © 2014, Sarah Hathorn, AICI CIP, CPBS

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