While being assertive is seen as a strong trait in a line manager, there are other skills you’ll need to work on to find a balance.
To be a successful manager you will need to be able to lead your team confidently and assertively.
Being confident and assertive is something that comes with experience but you can get ahead of the game by taking an assertiveness training course ensuring you know the best techniques to use in given situations.
Empathy is a significant trait that will show your new team that you care about their ideas. By listening to them you will gain their trust and create a positive working environment.
But it is not just your team that needs you to be assertive, sometimes you will need to report up to senior managers.
In this case, being assertive doesn’t stop at listening but being listened to as well.
To make yourself heard you’ll benefit from learning some techniques in how to be assertive and how to do it positively.
Being assertive may come naturally to you, or it may take time while you’re still finding your feet as a manager.
There are some techniques that will help you start to build your assertiveness and become more confident in your own decision making:
1) It’s what you say AND how you say it.
Choosing your words wisely is only the start.
When learning to communicate in an assertive fashion, be mindful of the language you use, face to face and electronically.
Be professional and clear about your expectations.
2) Think about your body language.
Your posture says a lot about you and what kind of message you are conveying.
Signify your point with gestures where needed and make eye contact with the person you’re talking to. They will feel confident in you and what you are saying.
3) Always come prepared.
Assertiveness doesn’t mean that you know all of the answers. It does mean that you have the confidence to talk about and ask questions on the subject where you don’t have much knowledge.
It also means that you have the confidence to not hide from topics you don’t understand so you do and do your research so that you know the right questions to ask.
4) Show humility.
Even though you may know a subject inside and out, there may be other people who can contribute and have new or different viewpoints.
Allowing someone to share their viewpoint shows you value their viewpoint and are interested in their opinions.
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Bossy Vs Assertive
If you only focus on how assertive you want to be, you can easily forget the other skills that helped you get to your new position.
Being assertive doesn’t mean pushing your ideas for the sake of it, or just because you can.
It can come across as bossy and dismissive if you don’t communicate your intentions well.
With your new team in mind, there will be opportunities to delegate tasks, set goals and monitor performance.
Read these tips on how to make sure you represent yourself as a confident leader and not a bossy one.
This dynamic is key to keep in mind for interviews! Read our article featuring 50 Essential Interview Tips here.
Stay Calm And Focused On Key Goals
To avoid coming across as aggressive it is important not to be defensive.
By focussing on the end goal while being open to ideas, people will be more likely to contribute. Your likability is what will win your team over, rather than aggression.
Know When To Say “No”
A lot of the time, your job as a manager will be to make decisions and have the final sign off on tasks.
But it is important not to dismiss ideas from others just because you can.
Equally, this doesn’t mean saying “Yes” to everyone.
You need to say ‘No’ in the right way so that your team knows that you value their opinion and encourage them to come to you with other ideas in the future. This means taking the time to listen to their idea and asking some questions to be sure that you really understand what it is and why they think it is a good idea before saying ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.
Learn to listen properly
Most of the time when we listen, we are already thinking of a response before the other person has finished talking. Without jumping in, let them share their ideas and show assertiveness by concentrating the ones you like and offering an action plan.
Being assertive means being confident in your decisions. It is possible to demonstrate authority and confidence without coming across as bossy. Indeed, in showing that you are open to new ideas you are actually demonstrating that you are secure and confident in. your position.
Being a new manager, you will find your days are full of new challenges.
But how do you make sure this positivity stays by the time the excitement wears off?
It isn’t uncommon for managers to start to feel the strains associated with leading teams and having results-driven tasks and when they do they begin to feel less positive and become less patient.
By defining your positive assertiveness at an early stage, you set the tone for an ongoing positive work environment.
Confidence is the number one challenge you will face in being an assertive manager. Too much can come across as pushy, too little can come across as passive.
Think of this as an example:
You have delegated a task to a senior member of your team and the deadline is approaching.
Not wanting to confront the team member as they appear to be under a lot of pressure, you avoid asking how it is going.
If they then come to you at the last minute saying that they won’t hit the deadline you either agree to the extension with questioning it and why they are late or respond passive-aggressively by ignoring them for the next few days.
You chase them up repeatedly to emphasise that the deadline is approaching and that they have had plenty of time to complete the task or ask for help or an extension.
You see they are under pressure, but you are too, and the job needs doing, so no excuses despite leaving them somewhat bruised by these encounters.
In setting the task, you were clear in your communication and anticipated potential hurdles.
You have checked in periodically and can see before the deadline that they are struggling.
Before the deadline, you have a quick chat to remind them that the deadline is important and also to see if there is any help that you can offer to help them to hit the deadline.
Being assertive and having the confidence to speak up doesn’t mean you have to push people to their limits.
In growing your own confidence, maintain positive relationships and make sure your team knows they can come to you for help.
When it comes to deadlines, show positive assertiveness by driving the end goal forward as a team and staying focused on the end goals.
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