Leading Assertively

Behaving assertively involves treating others with respect and expecting them to do the same for you.  It is a key to good leadership. 


Assertiveness is a vital communication tool and together with active listening skills enables you to communicate effectively.  When you communicate assertively you:


  • Have a clear idea of what you want
  • Aim to take or initiate action towards your goal
  • Send your message openly, directly and specifically
  • Listen to what others have to say
  • Respect others’ opinions, even if you do not agree with them


Behaving assertively enhances your relationships, gives you greater confidence and increases your self-control.  It enables you to stand up for yourself without violating other people’s rights or becoming unnecessarily anxious.  Being assertive helps you to:



Assertive behaviour is honest, direct and appropriate.


Honest means that you express your opinions and feelings so that others do not need to ‘second guess’ or read your mind.


Direct means that your honesty is directed to the person or situation concerned and that is done in as straightforward a manner as possible.  Taking out your anger on someone else is not assertive, no matter how honest.


Appropriate means that you choose your behaviour to fit the situation.  It also means that you use the least amount of force or persistence to handle the situation.  It certainly means considering factors such as the other person’s feelings, your feelings, and the likely outcomes.



Some questions to reflect on:

  1. With whom do you need to be more direct?
  2. What are your needs in this situation?
  3. What will be the payoffs be of a more assertive approach?
  4. Where can you find support in this situation?


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