What Is Assertive Leadership? (With Benefits And 10 Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 20 September 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Strong leaders in the workplace are vital because they can help motivate their team members and increase company productivity. As a leader, you may try different leadership approaches to find the right one for you, including being assertive. Learning about the advantages of being an assertive leader and how to implement them into your leadership style may help you become a more effective director in your team. In this article, we discuss assertive leadership, including defining it, sharing its benefits and listing 10 tips on how to become this type of leader.

What Is Assertive Leadership?

Assertive leadership is a communication style in which individuals express their thoughts, ideas and expectations with their teams in a self-assured but considerate way. This type of leadership involves collaboration with professionals at all levels of the organisation. For example, when trying to find a solution to an issue within their department, an assertive leader may reach out to their team to ask for their feedback. They can then make a confident decision about how to move forward. Other organisation members may feel more appreciated because their opinions played a role in the decision.

This type of leadership is committing to decisions and setting boundaries as a manager, but it also requires open communication and regard for others.

Related: Traits Of A Powerful Personality And How To Build Them

What Are The Benefits Of Being An Assertive Leader?

An assertive management style offers many benefits for leaders and organisations. Assertiveness can be an effective approach to management because leaders earn the appreciation of others by supporting their teams. Professionals who feel valued by their supervisors might be more likely to respect their managers. Individuals may also benefit from this type of leadership outside the workplace. Assertive traits, such as showing concern for others' thoughts and opinions, feeling confident in your knowledge and considering both when solving challenges can encourage healthy personal relationships.

Some benefits of this type of leadership may include:

  • Experiencing simple conflict resolution: Individuals feel comfortable voicing their opinions and working through challenges with others.

  • Having strong working relationships: Assertive leaders can promote teamwork to complete mutual goals together.

  • Expressing respect for managers: Supportive leadership encourages collective respect between managers and their teams.

  • Feeling motivation to collaborate on goals: When individuals feel valued by their leaders, they may have more motivation to help meet team and company goals.

  • Experiencing positive working environments: When company culture creates a community environment, individuals may experience greater job satisfaction.

  • Having career advancement opportunities: Assertive leaders can have skills to contribute to their professional success, such as earning a senior leadership role.

  • Experiencing lower turnover rates: Happier teams are less likely to seek employment elsewhere.

  • Having an increase in company growth: When individuals and teams succeed, the organisation can experience increased success.

Related: Traits Of An Effective Team Leader

10 Tips On How To Be An Assertive Leader

You can learn to be assertive by developing and practising the assertiveness skills associated with efficient leaders. Here are some tips that may help you establish this type of leadership at work:

1. Be firm when making decisions

Making decisions is an essential part of any leadership position. Leading a successful team or project involves important choices about how to provide guidance, make requests and solve challenges. Strong decision-making skills help you develop important baselines, such as policies regarding disciplinary action and job roles. To be an assertive leader, it is essential you feel comfortable deciding for yourself and your team. Typically, these leaders encourage open communication and consider the team's input before taking action.

Related: Important Decision-Making Skills: Definition And Examples

2. Communicate openly and honestly

This type of leadership requires thoughtful honesty with your team. A balanced approach to honest communication is critical because it builds trust, improves morale and helps individuals make positive changes. As an assertive leader, acknowledge members' successes to celebrate their achievements. Recommending areas for improvement can be constructive when you introduce the challenge and potential solutions. You can emphasise how the experience can help the professional learn and grow.

Related: Communication Skills In Leadership: Importance And Benefits

3. Give clear, concise direction

If you are an assertive leader, you know what your expectations are and make it clear to their teams, but they also welcome ideas and have strong relationships with their team members. In this leadership role, you are responsible for determining how the team operates. To be an effective assertive leader, it is helpful to give precise directions and encourage your teams to contact you if they have questions. When professionals have enough information to move forward in their tasks, they might experience an increase in their productivity.

4. Remain calm and approachable

As an assertive leader, your attitude towards your team can affect how well you work together. Keeping a calm, friendly demeanour and how others perceive you is necessary to maintaining an approachable attitude. What you say matters, but how you say it can also affect how professionals interpret the interaction and how they feel when leaving the conversation. It is essential to ensure the interaction is a positive experience for team members because it can help improve their confidence and productivity.

Related: Characteristics Of A Charismatic Leader (With Examples)

5. Embrace opportunities to change and improve

As an assertive leader, you can encourage team members by informing them of areas where they can make positive changes to improve their self-confidence and job performance. You can also look for opportunities to make your own improvements. Additionally, you may express what you wish to see in your team by modelling the behaviour you expect from them.

6. Address professionals by their name

As an assertive leader, addressing professionals by their names helps establish your assertiveness verbally. Stating your team members' and other professionals' names when speaking to them may help you appear more confident and direct in your communication. Saying their name can help gain their full attention to your message, and it helps them know you are speaking to them directly, which may help to minimise potential communication confusion. This technique can also help members feel valued because you know their names and contributions to the team.

Related: 61 Team Appreciation Messages (And 5 Tips For How To Write Them)

7. Express your needs and emotions

Expressing your needs and emotions as an assertive leader helps you guide your team with authenticity. When you express what you are feeling and expecting from the team, it may help encourage the members to do the same. This allows for more open communication between you and the team. To express your needs and emotions successfully, be honest and open about sharing details and how you might like to resolve the situation. This can inform the team how you are feeling and the actionable steps you can work on together to solve the challenge.

Related: Guide: How To Become An Effective Communicator

8. Learn to say no

As an assertive leader, it is imperative to learn how to say no to others. For example, perhaps someone asks you to do something you might not be comfortable handling. This means it might go against your values or beliefs, so you can learn how to decline individuals' requests respectfully. When you are declining a request, it is essential to understand why you are saying no and provide the other party with a reason why you do not want to complete the task.

You may direct them to ask another professional more equipped to complete it or work with them to determine a better solution for their request.

9. Use I statements

Use "I" statements can help place less emphasis on blaming another individual and more on addressing your needs and emotions. When you use these statements, both parties can leave the interaction feeling satisfied with the outcome and less like they are compromising. These statements allow you to open the communication to describe the situation and what you may like to do about it to change it. Here is an example of "what can I" statement may resemble:

  • "I think there are other ways to solve this challenge."

  • "I feel upset when the team declines in productivity because I depend on your work to complete mine."

  • "I think we can approach this situation differently."

Related: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions And Examples

10. Establish boundaries

When you establish boundaries as an assertive leader, it can help you and your team members determine what is acceptable in the workplace. Boundaries can help professionals understand the relationship better and how to navigate it. For example, you may share how long meetings can be and the agenda, so team members can clearly understand what to expect.

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