We’ve talked before about the common traits of effective team leaders – attributes such as the ability to inspire and motivate others, have vision and lead by example. But there are two qualities shared by good leaders and managers that may not be the first to come to mind: grit and gravitas.

So, what exactly are these two highly desirable leadership skills, and how can they help you get ahead as a current or future leader?


Akin to perseverance and determination, grit is the ability to go to work day-in and day-out and do the best job you can, consistently. It doesn’t mean you are a machine – we all have days that are more productive than others – but it does mean that you can consistently deliver good results.

Grit is what gets you up in the morning determined to go for that run, even if it is freezing cold and you would much rather be in bed. Why is this a tenet of good leadership? Because it means you can lead by example and stay motivated when the going gets tough, and keep inspiring your teams to do the same.

How do you develop grit?

Firstly, you have to believe in and understand what you are working towards. Are your values aligned with those of the company? Do you feel passionate about your work? If these things are in place, grit usually follows naturally.

Make sure that grit doesn’t trip you up though: pushing yourself too hard in a job that’s not right for you can lead to career burnout.


Essentially, gravitas means you have enough ‘presence of being’ for people to take you seriously. When you talk, people listen. Your persona is compelling enough for people to believe and trust what you’re saying. Gravitas is essential to charismatic leadership.

How do you develop gravitas?

This one is more of a learned behaviour – learning to behave in a way that invites respect. Developing gravitas isn’t about acting overly serious or dry, but rather ‘reading the room’ to adjust your behaviour based on the situation.

Try these tips for developing gravitas:

  • Invite feedback. Ask a trusted friend or mentor to evaluate your presence – such as while presenting – and provide feedback on ways you can improve.
  • Consider your verbal and body language. The way you carry yourself and talk can have a significant impact on people’s perception of you. If you think you need help in this area, consider taking a course like Toastmasters.
  • Dress to impress. Looking neat and well-presented goes a long way in developing a commanding presence.
  • Be assertive but not bossy, and confident rather than arrogant. Gravitas is about inviting genuine respect from others, not being the biggest bully or loudest voice in the room.

Are you ready to take on a leadership role? Get in touch with Michael Page’s recruitment specialists to discuss opportunities in your field.

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