How to Be Assertive (Without Losing Yourself) Conventional wisdom says that assertive people go ahead. They tell people what they think, request the resources they need, and don’t take no for an answer. So what are non-assertive people supposed to do, if their company’s culture rewards these actions? If you’re shy or reserved, don’t fret. You can ask for what you need and get what you want, while still being yourself. What the Experts Say Managers need some degree of selfconfidence to be effective. “The right amount of assertiveness, respect for others, and intelligence is what makes a great leader there needs to be a balance.”There’s a sweet spot for assertiveness. If you’re below the range, you’re not going to get your way.
If you’re above it, you’re not getting along with others. The good news is being shy is not a permanent condition. Assertiveness can be learned. The key is to understand the context, assess your behavior, and then make the appropriate adjustments. Understand the context Assertiveness is not universally understood to be a positive trait. Before you make changes to your behavior, know the context you are working in. Does the culture national, regional, or organizational truly value forcefulness? Or do you work in a situation where a persuasive, quiet approach is sometimes more esteemed? Consider the implications of your behavior before you alter it. Evaluate your level of assertiveness You can do this by either assessing your own behavior or asking others for input. Are you willing to talk to anyone about what you want? Objectively rating your own behavior can be difficult. “The connection between what we think we’re doing and what others see is very weak. Often it’s not greater than chance,” Therefore, it might help to get feedback from trusted colleagues or to conduct a 360-degree review Set goals and stick to them If you find in your assessment that you are holding back in situations where you shouldn’t, ask yourself what you aren’t saying and why you’re keeping quiet.
Next time you enter a similar situation, rehearse what you are going to say and how you will say it beforehand, challenge yourself with a specific timebounded behavioral goal. For example, give yourself a week to initiate three difficult conversations with colleagues. Or tell yourself that for the next two weeks, whenever you’re in a group discussion, you’ll speak up within the first two minutes. “Focused incremental changes add up to real change,” If you’re successful, set another goal and stick to it. If it doesn’t work, don’t beat yourself up. Try a different one. “Approach it with an attitude of playfulness,” Build relationships Often time’s people hold back because they are uncomfortable in a situation, either because they don’t know people or they’re afraid of what others might think. Therefore, it can help to get to know people outside of work. Connect with work colleagues who are only casual acquaintances. Socialize with colleagues in a way that breaks down barriers.
You may be less cautious about speaking up if you’re at ease socially. Stay true to yourself Altering your style to be more assertive can feel inauthentic, but it doesn’t have to be. You’re not changing your character; you are making deliberate choices about how you behave. Don’t feel you have to muster interpersonal coldness to accompany your assertion. Feel free to be friendly and empathic while asking for your needs to be met. Find your own style instead of trying to imitate others. Nor do you need to be more assertive in every context every day. You can bring out your competitive side when it’s useful and you can dial back and be accommodating when it’s helpful. There’s a line — know when you’ve crossed it Be careful that in your quest, you don’t become a bully or a nuisance. being overly assertive is often interpreted as self-promotional or arrogant. Monitor the impact you have on others. The costs of being overly assertive are not immediately apparent to us.
If you yell at a subordinate, she may do what you asked but she may also go home and update her resume. Be sure your efforts to push more are well intended. Assertiveness is most appreciated when it’s in the service of the team. Principles to Remember Do: Assess your own degree of assertiveness and ask others for feedback. Set realistic goals to make small changes in your behavior and stick to them. Forge relationships with colleagues outside of work so that you feel more comfortable speaking up. Don’t: Assume that assertiveness is always a good thing — the context you work in and your gender both matter. Try to imitate someone else’s behavior — you can change while still being true to who you are Overcompensate and become aggressive — balance assertiveness with consideration of others. 2) Why Aren’t You Delegating? You have way too much to do, you’re buried in work, and it seems there’s no way out from under it all. But there is: delegation. Yes, yes, you know it’s important to do and you know it will save you time and help others develop new skills.
So why aren’t you doing it? What the Experts Say Delegation is a critical skill. Your most important task as a leader is to teach people how to think and ask the right questions so that the world doesn’t go to hell if you take a day off. Delegation benefits managers, direct reports, and organizations. Yet it remains one of the most underutilized and underdeveloped management capabilities. Most people will tell you they are too busy to delegate — that it’s more efficient for them to just do it But it’s time to drop the excuses. Here’s how. Watch for warning signs You may not realize that you’re unnecessarily hoarding work. There are warning signs, however. A classic sign of insufficient delegation is that you are working long hours and feel totally indispensable, while your staff isn’t terribly energized and keeps strangely regular hours. You may also feel that your team doesn’t take ownership over projects and that you’re the only one that cares.
If they use phrases like, “I’m happy to help you with this,” it may be an indication that you’re doling out tasks, not handing over responsibility. Understand why you’re not delegating There are plenty of reasons why managers don’t delegate. Some are perfectionists who feel it’s easier to do everything themselves, or that their work is better than others this is “selfenhancement bias.” Some believe that passing on work will detract from their own importance, while others lack self-confidence and don’t want to be upstaged by their subordinates. No matter how self-aware you are, don’t assume that you’re immune to these biases. Instead, you need to proactively ask yourself what you’re going to do to counterbalance them.
Letting go of these misconceptions can be extremely difficult and often organizational culture doesn’t help. Giving up being ‘the go-to expert’ takes tremendous confidence and perspective even in the healthiest environments. “It’s even more challenging in the average company, where being a good manager is seen as a ‘nice to have,’ but where producing the core deliverable is what is truly esteemed.” But accepting that you can’t do everything yourself is a critical first step to delegating. Measure how you’re doing Once you’ve recognized what’s standing in your way, the next logical step is to adjust your behavior. In reality, however, very few people know what to change or how to change it. “If you asked most managers how they spent their day, they are not going to be able to recall it accurately. He advises keeping a daily diary of how you spend your time. After a week, you’ll start to see patterns. You’re likely to find that a lot of time is spent on low-leverage activities that can be delegated. Choose the right people Some managers fear delegation because they’ve been burned in the past. It’s important that you pass on work to people who have the necessary skills and are motivated to get the job done right. Ideally, you should be able to delegate some form of work to everyone on your team.
If you push work as far down the hierarchy as possible, you will free up time and help all your staff members grow. Integrate delegation into what you already do Delegation shouldn’t be yet another task. Make it part of your process for creating staff development plans. Discuss which types of projects and tasks you will passon to them so that they can build the skills they need. Make sure it’s written down as part of their performance goals and discuss how you will be mutually accountable for making it happen. Then create a cheat sheet that lists each person’s development plan and put it somewhere visible. This should help to spur your thinking about opportunities to delegate as they arise normally in your work. And the assignment will be welcomed because the employee understands clearly how it fits into the development plan.
Ask others to hold you accountable Give your direct reports permission to call you out when you haven’t delegated something you should. Remember that it’s never easy to give your boss feedback, so be crystal clear that you are open to and expect this kind of input. Also, let them know that they’re responsible for their own growth and if they see a project they want to take on, they should ask for it. Really let go After you delegate, your job as a manager is to observe and support your direct reports, not dictate what they do. It’s not about making the decisions for them. Develop their critical thinking skills so they become better at intervening in their own situations. Give your employees space. If you want people to learn, you have to permit them to make mistakes and figure out how to correct them. Micromanaging defeats the whole purpose.
Be careful though. It’s possible to be too hands off. While you don’t want to tell people how to do the job, you must be in a position to evaluate their performance and development. Don’t walk away from a task you’ve delegated. Stay involved but let your employee lead the way. Learn from experience Once you’ve started delegating more, pay attention to the results, and learn from your mistakes. Ask yourself how you can tweak your approach. Can you delegate more involved tasks? Should you give your direct reports more freedom? Do you need to monitor progress more closely? Be patient with yourself while you practice. You’re going from an ‘I’m going to do everything because I know better than everyone’ mindset to ‘I’m going to let people learn’ mindset”. It may take time, but the payoff is great. Principles to Remember Do: Take note if you’re overwhelmed and your team members don’t seem to have enough to do — it’s a warning sign Keep a visual reminder of your team’s development goals so you can easily identify opportunities to delegate Ask your direct reports to call you out when you haven’t delegated enough. Don’t: Assume that you aren’t biased about other people’s performance Give someone else responsibility for something and then micromanage the task to death Be impatient — practice and learn from your mistakes.