Assertiveness relates to how openly someone can communicate their beliefs and feelings. As well as being able to stand their ground and defend their point of view to others in a non-destructive way. Whilst respecting the validity of other people’s rights to an opinion that may be different to theirs.

Assertiveness is not to be confused with aggressiveness. One can be assertive whilst not being aggressive. Aggressiveness tends to involve hostility and wanting to overpower, which assertiveness does not. Assertiveness is not about attacking.

A good book to read in which Daniel Goleman also speaks of assertiveness, is his book called Emotional Intelligence.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. – Mark Twain

Low Range vs High Rage Assertiveness

People who fall within the higher range of assertiveness are able to express their thoughts and feelings easily. It does not necessarily matter to them whether their opinion or ideas are welcomed or accepted. They do not tend to change their mind just because of others who may disagree with them. They are less likely to compromise on their beliefs unless it is for a good reason. They can be described as being forthright and taking a stand for what they believe in. If they have something to contribute, they will generally speak up and make it known.

On the other hand, people in the lower range of assertiveness may struggle to openly convey their thoughts, feelings, and ideas to others. Example, they may not voice their opinion in a meeting, even though they feel they have something valuable to contribute.

They could be described as shy and may be overly controlled by others. Whether they express themselves can sometimes depend on them feeling accepted by others in the group. They may only openly express themselves if they believe that others will agree with them. People with lower assertiveness may find it difficult to argue their point with someone who disagrees with them and may be quicker to compromise or change their mind.


Impact In Leadership

High assertiveness in leadership

A certain degree of assertiveness is an important quality in a leadership position. Leaders who display a high level of assertiveness can more easily express the direction they want their team to go in, even if it’s not a popular option or opinion. They can easily defend the reasons for their choices and decisions. Continuing to implement their ideas and plans if they believe it’s the correct and appropriate way forward.

While assertiveness as a leader can generally be considered as a good quality, there can also be some downsides. For example, someone with high assertiveness, high self-regard and low interpersonal skills, may struggle to take on the opinions and ideas of others. Asserting their own opinions and ideas without compromise. Potentially coming across as a bulldozer or as a “my way or the highway” kind of person. Possibly leading to team members no longer expressing their opinion and even feeling undervalued.

Low assertiveness in leadership

Leaders who fall in the lower range of assertiveness may find it difficult to express their vision and direction properly and convincingly. Or what about a manager, that cannot say no. Continually taking on duties that their team members should be doing. At the end of the day, they don’t get to do their own work, because they are so busy doing other people’s tasks. They may even come across as a little flaky or uninspiring. Especially someone who has low assertiveness and be in the lower range for self-regard.

Example, imagine a team with some members having a higher level of assertiveness, whilst the team leader is in the lower range of assertiveness. Some team members might find it more challenging to take direction from the leader and even usurp them. This potentially leads to mixed signals, confusion, and lack of clear direction. Especially if the team members involved disagree with the team leader and want to get things done their own way instead.

A member of staff high in assertiveness may be able to strongly assert their views and ideas to everyone else more easily and congruently than a leader low in assertiveness. This leader may not be able to openly challenge their staff’s ideas and go along with them, even if they think it may not be the right decision. Such a leader may be unable to do their job effectively and struggle to steer the ship so to speak.

This can have the effect of creating a team without direction and focus. Where team members are unsure of where to look for leadership and direction. It can also create resentment within a team. Those who are less assertive may also feel unable to challenge the ideas of more assertive members of the team.

Clear direction and strong management are needed in the workplace ‘hierarchy’ to keep healthy boundaries.

Impact In Teams

Teams will naturally be variable in how assertive each of the individuals are and the dynamics that develop from this mixture.

Teams with people high in assertiveness are likely to be able to say what they think and give new ideas. While clashes may occur, everyone can hopefully express themselves effectively and be motivated to do their best work. A healthy team will move forward in a productive and positive way.

However, if teams have individuals low in assertiveness, they may feel unable to bring forward their ideas even if they are good and worth exploring. These team members may feel undervalued. They may also not deliver their best efforts if they feel that they are being walked over or taken advantage of. They can be overshadowed by more assertive team members. Therefor the team may not be as effective and productive as they could potentially be.

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Improving Assertiveness and Overall EQ

As explained, assertiveness affects how well leaders and staff can confidently express themselves and their opinions. Not in an aggressive way, but rather in a constructive way, whilst being open to other opinions and feedback.

Developing emotional intelligence can help to bring out the best in all stakeholders. Having a net positive effect on the overall functioning of the organisation.

If you feel that this is an area that you or someone you know may want to explore, then help is at hand.

On completion of the emotional intelligence assessment, we will work together to understand where you may sit on each of the subscales of EI. We can then work with you to increase the specific areas that you feel will have the most immediate and positive impact in your life.

The emotional intelligence assessment is done online and followed up with a face-to-face coaching session, which can be done via Zoom or in person.
Working on one’s EI can lead to significant positive results in all areas of life. Not only making one over all happier, but more effective and approachable.
It all starts with a simple yet immensely powerful online assessment.

To find out more about how your organization can benefit, contact us today for a no-obligation conversation.