Assertiveness is the focal part of effective communication among organizations, communities and other groups of individuals. Being a great leader means having the confidence to voice out personal and organizational needs in an effective way. The proper timing to asserting one’s belief is important and, at the same time, difficult.

The Different Styles

Not all leaders are effective with their people-handling and communication skills. These are the common styles that leaders practice:

• Non-assertiveness—this means that the leader fails to stand up for what he believes in and just goes with what the groups dictates to him. When this happens, the rights of the leader are clearly violated and his subordinates abuse him for his lack of assertiveness.

• Aggressiveness, on the other hand, is the style that leaders undertake when they want everything done their way. This means that the boss will listen to no one but himself and he will express everything even if people end up getting hurt. This type of leadership focuses on humiliation and putting down other people just so the leader could get away with what he wants.

• Assertiveness is the fulcrum to these two leadership styles. Being assertive means the leader stands up for himself in a way that would not violate any rights or hurt any feelings. This is a direct and honest expression of wants, needs, feelings, or opinions while maintaining one’s calm demeanor.

Basic Assertiveness

A good leader will always think of his and his subordinates’ overall welfare. This should drive any leader to become assertive and effective; but assertiveness can never be obtained overnight. There are ways to gain assertiveness in due time:

• A good leader must say what he feels in a nice manner.

• A good leader maintains eye contact when he talks to other people.

• A good leader also has good posture. Slouching gives the wrong impression to majority of people—it could mean that the person must not be taken seriously.

• A good leader has a moderate and respectful tone of voice.

• A good leader must never sound apologetic. If he has committed an error, he would strive to correct it and must apologize in a dignified manner.

• A good leader uses effective body language.

Assertiveness at a Higher Level

Assertiveness is often interchanged with aggressiveness and no leader must have the same connotation. Assertion would never involve hurting emotionally or physically which are indicative of aggressiveness. Winning every word war should never be a leader’s goal. No one ever wins an argument—in fact, the one who has the last word or who says more in every argument still loses.

A good leader must express all his feelings and ideas in all honesty. This will inculcate in his subordinates’ minds that he is trustworthy, therefore, good working relationship often follows. An assertive leader must also allow others to be assertive around him. This means that he would allow his subordinates to speak their minds in a clear and concise manner.

An effective leader must also have a set of reactions to several circumstances and he must constantly practice this. He must also know how to set limits without causing offense and this can be done by being firm.

Traits to Avoid

A leader who has a resolve to become assertive must avoid these traits:

• Indecisiveness

• Arrogance

• Lack of frankness

• Arbitrariness

• Bias

Leadership is a balance of all positive characteristics and the absence of negative ones. A good leader must remember this or he will be in jeopardy.

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