You’ll get better results if you understand and calibrate your assertiveness style.

I recently had a conversation with Eric, a manager at a large manufacturing company in the Midwest. Normally a very peacekeeping, congenial person, he told me how, upon becoming the manager for his group, he had made a point to be forceful to push through his ideas. He was then perplexed when his team did not produce the results he had anticipated.

Sure, it may seem like strong leadership is all about driving ahead and commandeering the situation–that leaders are most successful when they are on the more aggressive and forceful end of what I call the “assertiveness” spectrum. But assertiveness is more complex than that.

In this column, my sixth in a multi-part series on how to best communicate as a leader, I’ll cover assertiveness. You can check out my previous columns on how other approaches will help you get through to your team: analytical, structural, social, conceptual, and expressive.

Own Your Assertiveness Style
First, let me describe the two ends of the assertiveness spectrum. Before anything else, you need to understand where you fall. Managers who are on the driving end of the assertiveness spectrum tend to lead by influence; they’re task-oriented, decisive, and have a hard-charging approach. Managers who are on the easy going end of the assertiveness spectrum, on the other hand, tend to be more approachable and have a calming presence, take the time to listen, and carefully phrase thoughts and opinions.

That self-awareness is only one factor in calibrating your assertiveness. The other is your way of then understanding your interaction with others. Sometimes your natural assertiveness style will work perfectly, but other times you’ll need to flex your character to meet challenges and get the most out of employees.

Two Part Series: 4 Ways to Assert Yourself Effectively
4 Ways To Assert Yourself Effectively (2): The 4 Ways