Graceful Leadership: Raise Your Executive Presence by Showcasing Grace
February 27, 2023
“Grace offers redemption to us all. It gives steel to our spines as well as the humility to our souls.”
Have you ever encountered a situation where you find yourself repeatedly availing someone’s services simply because you are mesmerized by how they function? They might not even be trying too hard to sell, but their work ethic and credibility are such that you keep returning to them repeatedly. They may showcase unflinching determination and would probably have a wonderful relationship with their co-workers so much so, that the entire team would function as a well-oiled machine. You might even be inspired to perform better in your own life by simply looking at them. You might also see their other clients/customers feeling the same way.
What do you think sets them apart from other service providers?
The answer is - Grace!
What is Grace?
Grace is a quality that is strongly linked to effective leadership but is frequently disregarded. This is an effective strategy for leaders to win over their teams' hearts and minds. It's challenging to put "grace" into words, but to put it briefly, it refers to a style of leadership that is compassionate, collected, and subtly assured. It signifies a firm belief in one's own leadership abilities as well as an unflinching dedication to the success of one's coworkers and the organization.
According to Executive Coach John Baldoni, for any great leader, purpose and grace are extremely important. Purpose determines our vision and mission for our goals and thus answers our “why”. Grace on the other hand determines “how” we perform or pursue our goals. In his book, Grace: A Leader’s Guide to a Better Us, Baldoni talks about the five key elements of Grace:
● G-Generosity: It is an attitude of abundance and generosity, as opposed to a scarcity mindset in which leaders preserve power and resources. Giving freely encourages others to return the favor.
● R-Respect: Respect is a way of putting your trust in other people and assuming the best. According to Baldoni, true collaboration can only occur when different players and viewpoints are treated with respect.
● A: Action: Action stands for mobilizing people and bringing out the best in them to make things happen. Positive activity gives elegance to life.
● C-Compassion: Compassion stands for caring and concern for others. All acts of grace stem from a deep-seated desire to interact with and help other people.
● E-Energy: Energy stands for the capacity to motivate others with a cheerful disposition that promptly and without resentment overlooks mistakes.
Fluidity is another component of grace Baldoni talks about. Having a flexible attitude is critical. Consider how dancers and athletes seem to move with ease even though they are constantly exerting a great deal of effort. Similar to graceful athletes and artists, graceful leaders navigate the world with a sense of ease and elegance that results from being firmly grounded and at ease in one's own skin.
Eleanor Roosevelt’s Graceful Inclusion
Dean James Ryan from the Harvard School of Education narrated a dinner table incident where Eleanor Roosevelt, the first lady of the United States from 1933-1945 showcased true Grace.
One of the guests at the dinner she was holding at the White House made the error of drinking from his finger bowl. Eleanor instantly sipped from her finger bowl to spare him any embarrassment, and the rest of her guests did the same. Eleanor demonstrated by her tiny act that, contrary to popular belief, being gracious is not just about having good manners or adhering to social protocol. Genuine graciousness is around inclusiveness, empathy, and making others feel at home.
How to Develop Grace?
A leader who practices grace is able to handle life's challenges with gentleness and adaptability. The decisions that gracious leader makes are not influenced by the situations they find themselves in, but rather by the investments they have made in their own development and growth. A leader must practice living with elegance, just as a dancer develops grace through practice.
Here are 5 tips to help you lead with grace:
1. Develop Authenticity
Grace cannot be faked, but it can be learned and developed. Being authentic and at ease with oneself is essential for this type of leadership, which is why it can be a little perplexing and challenging to define. Genuine leaders are aware of who they are and are aware of both their talents and weaknesses. They don't hesitate to be open and honest with others at work.
2. Locate Your Center and Breathe
It's likely that you've heard the expression "grace under pressure" or "grace under fire." According to Martha Genlaw's book 2 Powerful Practices For Women Who Want To Lead With Grace, quiet confidence in trying times is a quality that emerges from the inside. She explains:
To be completely centered is the secret. We express the whole range of our confidence and abilities from this center. We instill certainty in everyone in our vicinity when we exude this confidence, even in the face of chaos. To provide this sense of stability to ourselves, as well as to others we work with and manage, is entirely under our control.
Genlaw further explains that grace has a bodily component. For example, breathing exercises can help you center yourself in a way that intellectualizing simply cannot. Whether it's inhaling deeply from the lower belly, relaxing the brain by pressing your tongue to the roof of your mouth, or stretching your exhales. Find a breathing technique that works for you and use it when you are feeling uncertain.
3. Act with Compassion
Compassion entails approaching people with kindness and the conviction that each person's time and abilities are valued. In order to avoid zero-sum situations, the goal is to design win-win circumstances where everyone benefits (where one party wins at the expense of another). A gracious leader presents goals as collaborative, exciting, and advantageous for all rather than relying solely on authority or financial incentives to motivate team members.
The wellness of your team members becomes your top priority on a daily basis when you lead with compassion. When a team member is experiencing a personal challenge, such as a loved one's illness, be sensitive to their sentiments and as accommodating as you can.
4. Demonstrate Course when Needed
Grace is propelled by conviction and principles. It entails working for the benefit of your team and organization even when you are pushed to choose a quicker, more straightforward course.
People with grace possess the inner fortitude required to defend their beliefs, particularly in the face of difficulty. When a leader notices injustice, their natural inclination is to take action to make things better. That feeling, which is motivated by empathy for others, comes from grace.
5. Offer Feedback
While gracious leaders acknowledge the efforts of their team members, they also try to elevate their standards of performance without any remorse. Keep in mind that giving helpful criticism, direction, and instruction is rooted in kindness. On the other side, ignoring subpar work and failing to keep people accountable will ultimately be detrimental to the individual. Grace calls on leaders to be sympathetic while maintaining a tough love approach and holding their staff to high standards.
It all boils down to setting an example. What a leader actually does matters more than what they say. People remember those who assisted them in their learning and skill development when it comes to the growth of others. They also recall instances in which a boss called them out when they were wrong, occasionally with a wince. These mistakes can have more to do with how they treated or abused a colleague than with the caliber of their job. If they paid attention, they learned from their failures and, even better, become more proficient at managing and leading others.
Therefore, leadership is about the group goal rather than a specific person. Grace then serves as the grease that enables people to get through the rough spots and the glue that binds us together in the pursuit of a common goal, our reason for doing what we do.
Happiness is not the point of life, according to Ralph Waldo Emerson. It is to be honorable, helpful, and compassionate, and to have your life and how you lived it matter in some way.
Grace gives us the ability to live such a life.