One of the ways to have power and influence in an organization is to become a trusted advisor to someone in a position of power.

This usually involves providing immense value to your client, members of your professional network, your boss, your peers, or peers in other departments that are one or two levels above you.

This is how you develop the gravitas needed to be a trusted advisor.

The key to developing gravitas more quickly is to recognize that some circumstances lend themselves to building trust, and thus gravitas, more quickly than others.

The simplest situation to look for is helping someone when they are facing a major headache. This can either be a major crisis or just an incredibly annoying problem.

At the extreme, when someone is drowning, they remember who helped them when they needed help the most.

The reason this happens is partly psychological. In times of crisis, emotions run high. Memories created while experiencing heightened emotions tend to create neurons that connect in a permanent way.

I first learned of this approach to developing gravitas while at McKinsey. I watched how McKinsey partners interacted with brand new, first-time clients.

When an engagement started, it was the usual professionalism that you’d expect from a top firm. At some point in the relationship, the client would open up and share more of their personal fears and hopes for their career within the business.

This was when the McKinsey partners would go into overdrive (and risk running their teams into the ground in the process – but that’s a story for another day) to help a client out (often without charging them for it).

Sometimes during the course of an engagement, some kind of perceived crisis emerged. The McKinsey partners knew this was an opportune time to invest hard in the relationship. The engagement team would find some way to be relevant and deeply helpful to the client in their time of crisis. When the client invariably survived the crisis, they were so deeply grateful for the support.

This is the reason McKinsey clients (the individual executives) often stay with McKinsey for multiple decades.

When someone is there for you in a crisis, especially when they didn’t have to be, trust deepens at an incredibly fast rate. This is why, if you want to develop gravitas, you look for people who are struggling (even if they don’t admit it) where you’re in a position to help.

When it comes to gravitas, timing is everything. If you’d like to learn more, complete the form below. You will be added to my notification list for the upcoming release of my program on How to Develop Gravitas for Extreme Career Success.

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