Bernadette McClelland - THE STORY STRATEGIST % SALES LEADERSHIP SPEAKER
Leadership and Speaking

The Power of Conviction in Leadership and Speaking

Everyday someone will want to know how to increase their conviction, influence or impact – whether through platforms of leadership or speaking. 


Some will believe that influence is a given, while others struggle and wonder if they’ll ever find the magic pill. Yet, the principles are simple and accessible when we realise ….

It starts with a DECISION

My speaking journey began with a significant decision rooted purely in conviction.

Leaving the comfort of a secure and well-paying job at Xerox to pursue a dream—to become a motivational speaker—required the courage of my convictions, especially when so many people around me doubted that decision.

But my decision marked the start of a long journey filled with moments of learning about business and self-discovery.

For me, it was about living into my true calling which has literally taken decades.

The Importance of Conviction in Leadership

Conviction is more than just a topical word. It is the baseline for leadership.

Without conviction, you can’t drive accountability, trust, transparency, good decision-making, and commitment.

According to DDI’s Global Leadership Forecast 2023 report, only a third of employees trust that their senior management will do what’s right.

They do not trust that their leaders will act with conviction when faced with difficult decisions to do what’s right versus what’s easy.

And that is a problem!

Leaders need to bring their people along on the journey

Belief In Your Message Leadership and Speaking

This photo is from one of my earliest speaking engagements at the Australian Institute of Management (circa 2000).

While this setting was worlds away from my usual boardroom setting where I had been comfortable talking print costs and blueprints for years, and whilst I had control of the nerves but was not yet comfortable ‘owning a room’ or getting out from behind a lectern, I still felt a deep sense of purpose.

Presenting to a room filled with managers and leaders I had never met, ironically sharing ideas on ‘How to Have the Audience Eating Out of the Palm of Your Hands‘, I felt so much conviction about this topic because I believed in the message. When you have that level of conviction in your message, you bring others along on the journey.

This week, the word ‘conviction’ is all over the headlines with the news about Trump and his thirty-four convictions. While his situation is vastly different, it underscores the power of conviction.

For me, conviction represents something incredibly empowering and positive. It’s about believing in yourself, your values and your path, even when others doubt you. It’s about showing up, even when the path ahead is uncertain or less taken by others.

Reflecting on my journey, I realize that leaning into the following elements of influence and impact has contributed to my interactions and outcomes, both professionally and personally.

And I hope these five principles can help you build your influence and make a significant impact, not just in your speaking, but in your business environment as well:

Leadership and Speaking
Australian Institute of Management

1. Accountability and Trust Leadership and Speaking

Leaders who demonstrate conviction foster environments where accountability is accepted and as a result trust is built. When you act with conviction, you are more likely to put your hand up and say ‘the buck stops with me’, making those around you feel safe and valued.

2. Effective Decision-Making Leadership and Speaking

Leaders who demonstrate conviction are deliberate and decisive. They remain committed to their course of action despite the challenges. This decisiveness is vital in today’s fast-paced business world where timely decisions can make or break opportunities, deals or even impact staff retention. This principle is central to my new keynote ‘Deliberate Disruption.’

3. Inspiring Commitment Leadership and Speaking

Leaders who demonstrate conviction create contagion, meaning they create a ‘stickiness’ and teams begin to show up more committed. My formula is COURAGE + CONVICTION leads to COMPETENCE + CONFIDENCE and of course this leads to higher profitability.

4. Navigating Uncertainty

Leaders who demonstrate conviction make us feel safe through tough times. We all need someone to lean in on when the chips are down and it’s more than bouncing back. In my keynote ‘Deliberate Disruption‘ I rework Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Anti-Fragility philosophy and introduce the Leadership Evolution model to show you how to move from the past to the present to the future and stare uncertainty down!

5. Authenticity through Message

Speakers who demonstrate convictionalso demonstrate their authenticity. Audiences connect with, and are persuaded and inspired by speakers who genuinely believe in their message when that message is part of who they are. This congruency is so much more than grabbing a microphone and talking, it ensures the message is impactful and memorable and creates change.

Whether you’re negotiating a business deal, guiding a team, or connecting with a new client, when you act on all the above components, you set your own stage for your own success.

Going All In

And whilst my speaking journey has had its ups and downs for many reasons – my recent decision to ‘go all in’ feels as though I’ve come home, and that’s a great place to be.

I would love for more people to do what is in their heart than what is in their head. To find the courage of their convictions and not feel like they are putting square pegs into round holes, so that all that stress begins to disappear.

The Australian Institute of Management was just the beginning for me and I’d love this post to be the beginning for someone else.

What decisions will you make that demonstrate the courage of YOUR convictions?

As usual…

Be Bold, Brave and Brilliant!

Bernadette McClelland

I bring an extremely powerful and relevant message to the front of the room or to the wider market with my keynotes – ‘The Courage of Conviction and Deliberate Disruption’.

Because if you are not disrupting yourself in the way you think, feel and act – then something or someone else will!

My message is designed for business owners, leaders and salespeople to embrace the courage of their convictions so they can step out, with deliberation, and lead with impact, overcome uncertainty, align brand messages and win more business in a volatile and uncertain economy.

Message me to speak at your next sales meeting or Association meeting.

Visit my speaker site BernadetteMcClelland.com

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