The Art of Being Perfectly Assertive
The best bosses stay in tune with how their words and eeds are construed by their followers. But bosses often can’t tell when they are pushing people too hard
versus not challenging them sufficiently.
Research conducted at Columbia University suggests striking the right balance between being too assertive and not
assertive enough is immensely important to being (and being
perceived as) a great boss. The researchers observe that managers who are too assertive are seen as overbearing and that perception damages their relationships with others. But managers
who are not assertive enough do not end up achieving much
with their teams and results do not provide real satisfaction.
The researchers found that lapses in assertiveness—either
being too assertive or not assertive enough—were mentioned
as hallmarks of weak leaders far more often than deficits in
other commonly studied attributes, including intelligence,
conscientiousness, and charisma.
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Being just assertive enough is one of the most important
qualities of a good manager. The best bosses get the balance
right on any given day, in myriad interactions with their
followers, peers, and own bosses. They modulate between
pushing people hard enough at certain times and backing off
appropriately at other times. Being flexible and socially sensitive—knowing when it is the right time for either approach—
enables them to be seen as motivating and engaged, but not as
bullying or micro-managing.
Harvard Business Review, http://blogs.hbr.org, June 28, 2010
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