Conviction Leadership

Accountability Management Personal leadership


Key Point: I have come to appreciate the importance of developing a clear CONVICTION process in leadership at all levels. The higher you go, the more refined it needs to be. 

In that last few years, I have had an opportunity to work with and observe a CEO I hugely admire. I never really thought a lot about the process of developing conviction until I watched him go through what I describe as his “personal conviction process.” It it clear, when he has major decisions to make, that he does so in a very thoughtful and predetermined way. Hence, I’m giving much more credence to the premise that becoming a great leader requires a well-developed conviction mindset. 

“Conviction” is often defined as a threshold level beyond which one feels a high level of confidence about what one truly believes should be done. I think the best leaders have very high emotional intelligence (EQ) and greatly respect the feeling of being unsure. They are very humble AND confident. Subsequently, humbleness provides a runway to keep gathering information, agonizing, and assessing until an acceptable threshold level of confidence is reached, i.e. conviction. 

At the same time, impact leaders have the uncanny ability to know when enough is enough. They are smart enough to know that analysis paralysis is not an option. Timing also plays an important role in getting to conviction. 

I think there is danger in getting to premature or false conviction. This often happens because leaders rely on authoritative leadership (“I’m the boss”) and convey such a strong point of view that they fail to take into account the necessary considerations. Their ego takes control and they feel compelled to be prematurely decisive. 

As a result, each of us needs to learn that arriving to conviction is a process involving sufficient time to gather information, considering alternative arguments, agonizing, and making sure we are arriving at a balanced and eventually “convicted” judgment. This journey is usually tough sledding.

Character Moves:

  1. Learn to understand yourself better and become aware of what your conviction process feels like. As you search for it, you will get better at defining it. Confidence will then surge and you will say to yourself, “I have conviction in my decision.”
  1. Do not expect perfection. The only way the conviction process evolves and brings us to a better leadership place is to analyze, seek the right amount of additional input, aspire to sensible conviction, act with confidence and be humble enough to really learn. Then accept the outcome with fierce self-accountability and do better the next time. 

Conviction in The Triangle, 


One Millennial View: To Millennials, recognizing that there is an actual “conviction process” feels like a distant thought, but the earlier on we can learn to recognize it the better we can start to develop it. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis