What makes the very top people in any context stand out? Is it their wealth, their intellect, their appearance, their energy, their charisma?

I don’t think that it is any of these, although you can certainly find plenty of examples of each. Rather, I think it is something far more fundamental. People at the very top of their domain – be it business, politics, sport, philanthropy, educations, service, or entertainment – have one thing in common. We listen to them. We want to hear what they have to say. And, because of this, we are likely to be influenced by their opinions.

This is, of course, the basis of LinkedIn’s Influencer program. Here is an example of a business giving the top people from many arenas a platform because we want to know what they have to say.

When you get to this position, your words will carry extra weight. The word we use for the characteristic that these people share therefore means weight. It is gravitas.

It seems to me that gravitas acts like a feedback system. We listen to people who have gravitas, and people have gravitas because we listen to them. The trick, therefore, is to start this self-reinforcing process: to acquire some gravitas. Because, without a doubt, being listened to and having others seek out and value your opinions, would be you’re your single biggest business asset.

In the next two articles, following this, I’ m going to offer a lot of advice in the form of tips and techniques for how to develop gravitas. But I want to start with the best.

If there is one person who, to me, role models gravitas constantly, it is the actor Morgan Freeman. In fact, there are few actors who have got to play that most-pervasive of characters, god, and none with as much… gravitas. I don’t know what Morgan freeman is like as a person, but his characters frequently have a depth, a solidity, and a weight that draws us to them. They have gravitas.

So what is Freeman’s secret in creating these characters? He puts it very simply – although you will find it far from easy to do:

“Stillness. That’s all and that’s the hardest thing. Learning how to be still, to really be still and let life happen – that stillness becomes a radiance.”

Have you noticed how little hurry some people seem to feel? How calm them seem – not agitated, not fidgeting; just patient. It’s agitation and rush that rob us of our impact, because they betray a lack of confidence. If you want gravitas, take your time… slow down. And the ultimate expression of slowness is stillness.


Dr Mike Clayton is a speaker and the author of 13 books, including How to Speak so People Listen, and Smart to Wise.

Audiences love Mike’s seminars and talks on influence, authority, charisma, and gravitas. Now he has also developed a 2 hour, 20 module video course on How to Develop Gravitas, and readers can access this at the discounted price of $29, by clicking the image below.

Fedora Gravitas Cover

The Real Power behind Gravitas

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