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Gauging the Conviction of Those Who Advocate
Not all advocacy is grounded in full belief.
On many occasions, team members, salespeople, and colleagues propose something they only partially believe in. In other cases, they advocate before they are fully prepared to do so. This doesn’t stop them from making a strong case for their position or proposal. However, given that leaders trust others to have done their homework and are often swayed by the strength of the advocacy, knowing where the proposer’s conviction truly lies is important to uncover.
In too many cases, leaders presume that those who make requests, propose new ideas, and suggest a change do so with full conviction. In reality, those who are highly convicted about an answer or an idea are the exception, not the rule.
Very often, those who advocate do so with varying degrees of belief, confidence, and commitment. Gauging the conviction of those who advocate for a proposal or idea helps leaders assess exactly how they should respond and whether they should support or reject the idea at this point in its articulation.
Asking advocates for their level of conviction, from high to low and places in between, is a smart move good leaders make. Leaders who request advocates give a number strength that reflects their belief and conviction are often surprised by the answer.
Sixty or even 80 percent confidence is a far cry from 100 percent. Articulated advocacy and passion for an idea are not the same as conviction in its value. People often propose ideas they suspect are impractical, unworkable, or missing something important. Good leaders don’t fall for it. They always gauge the conviction behind the idea.
The same is true for draft proposals and presentation decks that support advocacy. Confirming whether this is an early or late draft is critical. Early drafts, or those with a low percentage of clarity, conviction, or supporting facts need to be flagged. Otherwise, leaders can easily be duped into judging the merits of the advocacy on the arguments alone, even when the advocates are uncommitted to those claims.
Understanding the level of conviction advocates hold is critical to processing the information accurately. While some leaders can ascertain conviction by asking probing questions, the easier path is to simply pose the question: How certain are you that this is a great idea worth pursuing? On a 10-point scale, what is your level of conviction that this is a smart decision? How confident are you in the data and conclusion? The answer is usually telling.