Calm, assertive bosses make leadership look effortless. By earning the trust of their employees, they create an environment where their staffs respects their authority and look to them for guidance. When things go wrong, they know when and how to intervene and how to inspire employees to invest their time and energy in turning things around.
Some leaders mistake aggressiveness for assertiveness, costing them the trust and cooperation of their employees. Assertiveness involves more than just giving orders; the key is to project authority without inspiring fear. Assertive leaders ask for what they want from employees without making them feel threatened or incompetent. Being assertive is also a characteristic you use every day, not something you turn to when you encounter difficulties. Aggression, on the other hand, is hostile, makes employees feel inferior and is often how leaders act out when they haven't consistently led with authority and now find their employees aren't meeting their expectations.
Calm, assertive leaders set an example for employees by staying collected no matter how hectic or difficult things get. Instead of raising their voices or making threats when upset by an employee, they take the employee aside and discuss why they're upset and how they want the employee to address the situation. When difficulties arise, whether it's a manufacturing problem or a missed deadline, they create a plan for correcting the problem. Instead of letting employees see how worried they are, they shift the team's focus to how each employee can help get the project back on track.
Leaders who give vague directions might be perceived as weak, while leaders who give order without discussion might be viewed as autocratic. Calm, assertive leaders employ a more collaborative style, explaining precisely what they need from employees, when they need it and why they need it. For example, instead of saying "I need your report ASAP," calm-assertive leaders say "I need the report by 8 a.m. Thursday so I can discuss it with our CEO during our afternoon staff meeting." Because employees understand how their work contributes to the organization, they're more likely to invest their best efforts in completing the task.
Calm, assertive bosses know when it's time to step in and take control of a situation, especially when the situation involves bickering or conflict among employees. Strong leaders promote an atmosphere where fair and equal treatment of colleagues is mandatory. They make clear policies regarding what's acceptable behavior and what the consequences are for violating those rules. When they see signs of developing conflict, they intervene quickly, letting employees know they won't tolerate abusive or unprofessional behavior in the workplace.