Are you brilliant at business strategy, but not as strong when it comes to convincing others of what needs to be done? How deeply do you believe your own words?  Do you find yourself getting frustrated while communicating because others don’t buy easily into your ideas?

Influential leaders use their power to sway behaviours, decisions and actions. The best CEOs are able to revitalise their organisations by inspiring their teams to make things happen.

As humans, we crave certainty. Our brains are geared for certainty and we feel a sense of reward when we attain it. In business, things change so quickly that there’s a great deal of uncertainty about what’s going to happen next. The volatile circumstances of the past year brought on by COVID-19 have tremendously accelerated this. Uncertainty has been taking up a lot of people’s mental energy and making them less effective at their jobs.

Leaders who are connected with their people recognise this and seek to create an environment of certainty for everyone. Leaders who speak with conviction recognise what is in their control and what is not. Their conviction comes from an unwavering belief in their ability to control those things that they can. They don’t paint a situation as better or worse than it actually is. They are convinced that they have chosen the best course of action and enable their teams to absorb this belief and the accompanying emotional state.

In this way, when leaders communicate to their teams with conviction, they enable them to relax and concentrate on what needs to be done.

Leaders with great conviction demonstrate these traits:

  1. They’re strong. Strength is an important quality in a leader with conviction. People first assess if a leader is strong before deciding whether to follow their lead.  Interestingly, people are far more likely to show strength themselves when their leader does the same.
  2. They’re relentlessly positive. Leaders with conviction see a brighter future and they have the energy and enthusiasm to communicate this to others so that everyone else can see it too. Leaders who show conviction know how to turn on the positivity when the going gets tough.
  3. They’re confident. People are attracted to confident leaders because confidence is contagious, and it helps them believe that there are great things in store. Bright leaders make certain that their confidence doesn’t slide into arrogance as they know that arrogance leads to loss of credibility. Their confidence is about showing passion and belief in their ability to make things happen, whilst keeping humble.

Now as a leader it is not enough to have conviction, you need to speak with it, too.  Convincing others is an unfolding process that changes hearts and minds and compels them to action. It is not about being manipulative. Instead, it’s about expressing genuine intent and truly connecting with your people. Leaders who are serious about gaining agreement add a layer of convincing techniques to their communication skillset.

Great leaders know that to engage in masterful public speaking, the way they present their argument is as important as the argument itself. The way in which an idea is presented and conveyed affects whether the audience will consider it as worthy of action.

As a leader, you have the potential to make your arguments sound more convincing by utilising an affirmative tone, active voice and stronger word choice.

  1. Affirmative tone: Avoid taking a negative approach to an argument whenever possible. Instead, seek to frame your statement in a positive affirmative tone. So, for instance instead of saying, ‘Our teams are not doing enough to stay ahead of our competition’ reframe it to, ‘Our teams will focus their energy on staying ahead of our competition’.
  2. Active voice: Use of the passive voice can make your argument less convincing. So, for example, saying, ‘Action should be taken’ is not as effective as, ‘Our teams will take action’.
  3. Strong word choice: A key to strengthening your arguments is to replace weak and ambivalent words and phrases such as appears, seems, sort of, kind of. These are unnecessary and diminish your argument. If you have the evidence to back up your argument, assert your points confidently and declare your statements using strong words.

The language of leadership is decisive. A CEO’s capability to confidently communicate decisions is one of the most telling signs of power and influence. When a leader speaks with conviction—showing belief in their own argument— chances are high that their teams will too. When as a leader you sound self-assured, your people will respond with confidence in your direction. So, are you speaking with enough conviction?

You can reach Michelle Fenech Seguna on [email protected]  or access for more information.


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