How Leaders Can Speak With Conviction When It Really Matters

LaRae Quy
4 min readSep 29, 2022

As the spokesperson for the FBI in Northern California, I found myself in several situations where the FBI was criticized, and I was expected to justify its actions. As with most sophisticated investigations, there are many steps when building a case and evidence is not always made public until it goes to trial.

That didn’t stop reporters or members of the public from criticizing what they didn’t know or understand. They hoped they would find a soft center when they peppered me with questions, and that I’d capitulate under their harsh cross-examination.

They left disappointed because I could speak to them with conviction when it really mattered. While the FBI is not perfect, I was proud to be an agent because the FBI’s core values resonated with my own:




What Is Conviction?

When we speak with conviction, we convey a strong belief or opinion; we are confident that what we believe or say is true.

It can take mental toughness to speak with conviction. Are you mentally tough? Take this evidence-based, FREE Mental Toughness Assessment.

You can fake it for a while, but when the chips are down, and you are face-to-face with someone who won’t listen to you, you begin to sound and look like road kill. And then you wonder why you didn’t get a raise, lost a sales contract, or were bypassed for promotion.

If you can’t speak with conviction on the topic, you will find that your audience isn’t engaged in what you have to say, or they challenge you and continue to throw out more questions. When you don’t speak with conviction, you can undermine your level of knowledge and authority.

Conviction Is An Essential Leadership Skill

Conviction is rare; listen to any politician as proof! And it’s not just politicians who give us reason to doubt what people say. Our brains are hardwired to react with uncertainty and suspicion.

This trait kept us safe from saber-tooth tigers back in the day, but our brain still moves into an emotional state when confronted with something new or different.

LaRae Quy

Former counterintelligence FBI agent | Mental Toughness Center | Consultant | Speaker | Author: Secrets of A Strong Mind, & Mental Toughness for Women Leaders