Monday, January 30, 2012
Be assertive, but not aggressive
Many people think assertiveness and aggressiveness are the same quality, but they are mistaken. Aggressiveness is more about making decisions with no concern about how it can impact others, whereas assertiveness is when you ask for what you need, but are willing to make compromises. See the difference?
Assertiveness is actually a pretty important leadership characteristic. According to a study published in an issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, optimal levels of assertiveness play a key role in leadership. In the study, respondents identified assertiveness as one of the major problem areas for colleagues.
Why is assertiveness an issue for some leaders? Well, it doesn’t come naturally for everyone, and some people may fear if they act assertive, it will come across as too aggressive.
However, skillful assertiveness helps strengthen relationships, can reduce stress, and maybe even make you a more effective leader.
Keep in mind that assertiveness is not necessary for every situation you deal with as a leader, but you still need to be comfortable with coming forward in group discussions and not be afraid to express your own opinions. When you haven’t traditionally been assertive as a leader, you may not be as actively involved in your work group as you could be. Perhaps you have held back on making suggestions or offering your opinions about various scenarios.
The authors of that study stated that their research does not suggest leaders should act "moderately assertive” at all times. Instead, they believe leaders need to adopt a style that is flexible and adaptable, utilizing assertiveness depending upon the situation.
The key is to learn how to be assertive, but not aggressive. Here are some tips to remember:
With a little effort on your part, you can learn how to gradually be more assertive.