As a leader, part of your role is to inspire confidence in and commitment from the members of your team. To be able to do this effectively, you need to be able to express your thoughts, opinions, and attitudes in a forthright way. Being able to do so – being assertive - is about achieving an appropriate balance in your communications.
There are many leaders who believe that being assertive will make them appear aggressive. Assertiveness is not aggressiveness! Being assertive involves the ability to speak up and articulate your point of view, while still having respect for the views of others. It doesn't mean you’ll always get what you want – but it does mean that you will be able to ask for it in an appropriate way.
What can you do as a leader to become more assertive?
Well, there are some key skills that you can incorporate into your everyday behaviour which will naturally encourage assertiveness to be one of your positive leadership traits:
- Be able to clearly identify your needs and wants, and ask for them to be satisfied. This is the essence of assertiveness! Figure out ways to get your needs met. This is particularly effective, if you can achieve it without sacrificing the needs of others in the process.
- Find a way to express negative thoughts and voice your objections in a positive and healthy manner. Be direct, clear and concise and put consideration into how you express yourself, so that you are able to make your point without hurting others’ feelings.
- Learn to say ‘NO’ when necessary. It is important to understand that you won’t be able to please everyone all the time, so know your limits and be willing and open to discuss alternatives.
- Work on maintaining good working relationships. An assertive leader, who is respected and admired by others, can exert their influence and ask others to take on difficult tasks.
Assertiveness can be learned and developed over time by practising the skills and techniques presented here. Your team will be inspired and empowered to achieve more if you are able to exercise your skills as an assertive leader. Additionally, you will see how being assertive will better equip you to work with people to accomplish tasks, solve problems, to achieve your desired outcomes.