How to be Assertive in Leadership

Assertive leaders are able to express their thoughts and feelings in a direct, honest and appropriate way. They naturally tend to gain the trust and respect of their teams and their peers. They are able to communicate in a confident and clear manner without being aggressive or abrasive.

It’s important to recognise that assertiveness is a skill, not a personality trait. It’s a very valuable skill that allows you to be a better leader.

For more tips on being a great leader, download my free checklist today.

Improve your performance as a leader

You can learn to be assertive in the same way you learn any new skill.

Here are some of my top tips for being a more assertive leader

Assertive leadership tip 1:  Show up

Assertive leaders show up every day. They’re consistent in their leadership, and they spend time in and around their teams. They put in the effort to get to know them and understand them. Often, they have an open door policy, or regularly scheduled 1-1’s with team members, greet team members by name and are open and approachable.

Assertive leaders aren’t afraid of being challenged. They stand behind the decisions they make. If they’re wrong, they can openly admit this and describe what they’re doing to put it right. Leaders who don’t show up, tend not to command the same respect, or have the same levels of engagement in their teams.

Assertive leaders don’t disregard the thoughts and feelings of others. In fact, they respect other people’s thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. When challenged or questioned, they respond calmly. If they don’t have the answers, they are happy to say that and give a time-frame for finding out.

When you’re assertive, showing up for your teams is easy because you want to hear what they have to say. You get to understand and address your teams real concerns, meaning you can keep them motivated and engaged.

Assertive leadership tip 2: Stand up

Literally, just stand up!

Some interesting research from Washington University shows that standing up can make you more assertive. More specifically, it shows that when people stand up or move around more, they are more creative and collaborative.

Collaboration and creativity are key to assertiveness. Assertiveness is more than getting your point across. It’s also about respecting the views of others. Assertive leaders encourage others to be open and honest about their views. They listen respectfully to the views and opinions of others, regardless of whether they agree. They look for solutions that benefit everyone where possible.

Creative thinking helps you be assertive by allowing you to come up with thoughtful responses to questions or challenges. When you think creatively, you can avoid becoming defensive or aggressive in response to a challenge. You could say it’s the very embodiment of ‘thinking on your feet’!

According to another study by Stanford, a brief walk also boosted creativity. So, if standing isn’t an option, have a quick walk around the office instead.

Try and get yourself moving or standing more during the working day to reap the benefits. Why not start by introducing ‘stand up’ meetings?


Assertive leadership tip 3: Know your strengths

Another key part of being an assertive leader is knowing your strengths. When you know what your strengths are, and how they benefit you and your organisation, you feel naturally more self-confident.

When you know your strengths, you can concentrate on working with them as much as possible. This helps raise your self-esteem and in turn your ability to be assertive.

Knowing what your strengths are also allows you to identify what your weaknesses are. When you understand your weaknesses, you can work on improving them. In turn, this will make you feel more confident.

For more tips on being a great leader, download my free checklist today.

Improve your performance as a leader

If it doesn’t come naturally, being assertive can put you outside your comfort zone. But with regular practice implementing these tips, you should begin to see an improvement.

If you’re ready to take the next step, book in for a one-off strengths session with me today. I can help you discover your unique strengths and how to use them to be more confident and assertive in your leadership practice.

Sharing is caring!