Why Assertiveness is so Misunderstood

It is so easy for people to interpret "assertiveness" as "aggressiveness". As such, leaders often hold back and keep it "nice". It make it hard to get things done.

Let's look at some definitions.


Assertiveness: showing a confident and forceful personality.

Aggressiveness: behaving in a determined and forceful way.

Looks like there's a fine line there, so people avoid both.

Let’s focus on a "confident personality" instead.


Confidence involves using one's voice, contributing more, offering opinions and making a decision. Building the confidence to be able to do this takes time.

It involves communication skills so that one can be more impactful in relationships.

1. How to create opportunities to contribute more and be heard? Try to contribute at every meeting while you stick to your area of expertise!

2. Communicate with impact by choosing the right words, the right tone of voice and, very importantly, the right body language.

3. Stand your ground on an issue. When you are very confident about your position, go for it! You should be hard on the issue and respectful of the people. Stick to the facts. When challenging poor performers, keep emotions out of it.

Agile leaders influence others, be heard, show more effective leadership and can then execute at speed.