The Role of Conviction in Startups

Written by Dave Bailey

Filed under culture founders psychology

Startup leader speaking with conviction

Human beings need to feel some sense of certainty in order to act. So how do you get people to act when there is no certainty . . . like in a new business?

There are two ways to increase this sense of certainty. The first is to reduce risk by collecting data, performing research, and running experiments. This speaks to our thinking brain.

The second is to provide the illusion of certainty by showing conviction. Conviction means showing you’re convinced that what you believe or say is true. It speaks to the feeling brain.

Sometimes, you have the data and that’s enough to get people to act. However, sometimes you don’t — and that’s when conviction is essential. People often want to act but they need your conviction to follow through.

Founders must present their business case with conviction if they want to get investors to say ‘yes’. Sales must present their product’s value with conviction if they want to get the sale. And team members must show conviction for managers to agree with their plans.

Of course, conviction doesn’t turn a bad idea into a good one. The trick is to speak with conviction but listen with humility. And that’s easier said than done.


Originally published Apr 23, 2021, last updated Jun 1, 2021

Learn a new skill every week

Subscribe to my weekly newsletter and learn new skills and mental frameworks that make startup life easier.

Unsubscribe any time.

Popular articles

How to Drive a Culture of Ownership

Do you wish your team took more ownership? Here’s how to trust them to get the job done without you...

How to Ask Your Team The Right Questions

To improve your ability to ask great questions, it helps to understand the types of questions you can ask...

A Guide to Running Exceptional One-on-Ones

How effective are your one-on-ones? Here's a practical guide for managers and their direct reports...

Join my newsletter

©2023 Founder Coaching Limited. All Rights Reserved.
FOUNDER COACH® is a registered trademark of Founder Coaching Limited.