Assertive, clear action is a boon to any organization. The assertive behavior of key contributors can create enormous value. Yet, for all its value, assertiveness is often overplayed and is one of the most common and detracting habits you can see in leaders.

Take a look around, if you are an assertive type surrounded by a large swath of disgruntled, disengaged people, you may have overplayed your hand.

It does not have to be that way. Below are 7 tips to get the most out of your assertive strength and avoid the downsides.

  1. Be flexible. Cars have more than one gear. Redlining all the time does not mean that you are being effective.
  2. Apply judiciously. Think of assertiveness as table salt – a little can go a long way.
  3. Pause and let people catch up. Not everyone has a bias for action. That does not mean they are stupid or creating barriers, it just might mean they need more processing time.
  4. Use your “no non-sense” approach to ask “no non-sense” questions. A good no non-sense question: What needs to happen to move forward? A poor question: Who screwed up here?
  5. Zip it and listen. See the point above and practice expressing your silence after well-crafted questions.
  6. Don’t excuse yourself. Statements like “that’s just the way I am” ignores the fact that styles can flex and that people can grow and adjust. Don’t accept a limited game from yourself.
  7. Decide in advance how you want to be. Be proactive and choose your behaviors before they choose you.
  8. Express your dissatisfaction with the state of affairs, not the state of people. Put your ability to focus and move on the problem, avoiding making it personal.

What other ways have you found to get the best out of your assertive strengths?

Photo Flickr Creative Commons