As a workplace manager, it’s crucial to be assertive. You and your team will only become successful if you can lead them in the right direction, have them respect you, and follow your orders.
However, many people struggle with assertiveness. Only 19% of people say that they are naturally assertive. On the flip side, some managers are too assertive they turn aggressive and will have more enemies than friends.
You need to find the perfect balance of assertiveness and fairness. And this is what I’m going to teach you here today. So let’s go over the 20 examples of how to be assertive at work as a manager. But first…
The Importance of Assertiveness as a Manager
Jeremy Sutton, a psychologist, consultant, coach, and writer, says:
“Leaders with good judgment but who lack assertiveness are seen as ineffective. Leaders who lack good judgment but are high in assertiveness are rated as better leaders. The best leaders are assertive and have good judgment.”
“If you can be assertive at work, you will feel confident knowing that you can handle any situation that presents itself to you throughout your workday.”
Here are other reasons why assertiveness in leadership is important:
- You will be an effective decision-maker. Your team will have a clear direction, reducing confusion and inefficiency.
- You will be able to resolve conflicts. Trust me, there are going to be conflicts in the workplace. But if you are an assertive leader, you will address issues directly and find resolutions that will benefit everyone.
- You will be a great team motivator. One of the great assertiveness skills for managers is to express expectations, provide feedback, set challenges, and make achievable goals. All this will be a great motivation for everyone.
- You will build a positive work environment. If the manager has great assertive communication skills, it creates an open and transparent work environment. Everyone will feel heard and understood.
20 Examples of How to Be Assertive at Work as a Manager
So now you know why assertive behavior is SUPER important. But what exactly does that look like in the workplace? Well, I’m going to go over 20 how to be assertive at work as a manager examples. These are:
- Use moral judgment in decision-making
- Provide good, honest feedback
- Maintain excellent relationships
- Find opportunities to collaborate
- Align behavior to context
- Set boundaries
- Say “no”
- Use “I” statements
- Express your needs and feelings
- Address people using their name
- Maintain confident body language
- Adjust your speech
- Give priorities
- Admit when you’re busy
- Don’t allow disrespect
- Identify when to agree to someone else’s demands
- Come up with solutions
- Know your limits
- Be ready for change
- Build trust
1. Use moral judgment in decision-making
As Jeremy Sutton said, the best type of leader has both good judgment and assertiveness. And when we say good judgment, that can also mean moral judgment. This will help you make guided decisions and actions based on ethical principles and values.
When you have a better sense of right and wrong, and make decisions based on that, you’ll be an assertive manager that the team will love and respect.
2. Provide good, honest feedback
If you want to become more assertive as a manager, you must always provide good and honest feedback. If someone does something good, give them the praise that they deserve. On the other hand, if someone does something wrong, make sure to be honest and give helpful feedback so they can improve.
3. Maintain excellent relationships
If you want to be a successful and constructive manager, you’ll need to have a good relationship with everyone. Remember, you shouldn’t be very assertive to the point where it becomes aggression. No one will like you if that’s the case.
Always be kind. Always make sure that you make your team feel heard and understood. Always take the time to get to know them. Always give them feedback and help them with problems.
4. Find opportunities to collaborate
If you’re a manager building assertiveness, you must recognize that collaboration and building good rapport with team members, other departments, or external partners are important. This produces openness to input, team building, a result-oriented approach, and much more.
Wrike.com, a workflow streamlining platform, puts it this way:
“Collaboration has multiple beneficial effects on the rest of the team or organization. When leaders are seen to value collaboration, the following impacts can be expected: increased productivity, engagement, innovation, and transparency, as well as decreased turnover.”
5. Align behavior to context
If you want to learn how to be assertive at work as a manager, you must always align your behavior to the context. You can’t just expect to be assertive in a certain way and it will be good. No, you need to understand the situation to know what assertive behavior to use for that specific moment.
To do this, try to understand the context of the situation. Do you need to be more assertive or less? Will a certain assertive behavior feel more like aggression than genuine help? Should you be more friendly or more firm?
Answering these questions will help you align your behavior to the context and earn the respect you deserve as a manager.
6. Set boundaries
To make your job easier, always set boundaries for the team – and stick to it no matter what. Make it clear to the team what is acceptable and what isn’t.
Here is one example that Jeremy Sutton gives:
“You may be prepared to provide coaching to a junior member of staff but clarify that it is for a specific length of time and will not be a session for criticizing colleagues.”
7. Say “no”
Saying “NO” is probably one of the hardest parts of assertiveness in the workplace. As a manager, you might feel like you’re letting your team down if you say that forbidden word. But according to psychologist Sara Capizzi, “Saying no is a way to define our boundaries and make them visible to others.”
It might be hard, but you must learn to say NO when people go over the set boundaries. That said, it’s just as important to explain the reasons behind your ‘no’.
Read More: How To Be Less Abrasive At Work
8. Use “I” statements
If you always use the term “you”, it might sound a bit demanding or aggressive. Examples of this are “you do this” or “you didn’t do that”. To avoid that, use “I” instead. You can say, “I feel like you’re the best for this job” or “I feel we need to talk about your work output.”
9. Express your needs and feelings
Yes, you should be an assertive manager, but you should also be authentic. This means to express what you are looking for, how you’re feeling about the situation, what is not working, and all that. Be very clear about your needs and feelings, as well as try to understand theirs.
10. Address people using their name
Here is an easy way to become more assertive at work. Yes, something as simple as using someone’s name to address them is great management training. This will not only make them feel “known”, but you will also sound more confident.
11. Maintain confident body language
Assertive people require self-confidence. However, that does not only translate to verbal strategies. There are nonverbal strategies that show that someone is confident, too. This can include talking with eye contact, sitting up straight, facial expressions, gestures that are relaxed and comfortable, etc. If your body language is confident, team members will respect you as a manager.
12. Adjust your speech
If you want to be assertive yet not demanding, it’s a good idea to work on the way you speak. Be calm and relaxed, but not to the point that you seem unconcerned about anything around you. Be loud enough to be heard by everyone, but don’t shout. Talk slowly and clearly. All this will help you communicate better.
13. Give priorities
Assertiveness at work looks like this – a great manager who makes clear-cut decisions, especially when related to deadlines. You need to let your team know when certain tasks are due. Use the “this is a priority” statement if you want the deadlines to be met on time. Clear instructions will make you assertively at work while letting your team know exactly what they need to work on first.
14. Admit when you’re busy
“I will review and come to a decision shortly” is another statement that follows the concept of assertiveness. As the manager, you probably have a lot on your plate. If you don’t have time for a team member’s thoughts, opinions, and decisions, don’t dismiss them completely. No, make them feel heard. But also, remind them that you’re very busy.
That said, when you have time, make sure you review what is brought to you and make a decision on it. This will show the team that you appreciate them.
15. Don’t allow disrespect
When you think about the workplace, you usually picture managers being disrespectful to employers. However, Sean McPheat, CEO of MTD Training, says, “Although it’s a common belief that employees are scared of their managers and would never disrespect them, many leaders can attest that is not true. Some individuals simply don’t know how to manage their emotions, and when they are upset or angry, they can lash out at their boss.”
If you need team members to know that you don’t tolerate disrespect, the phrase “I don’t appreciate that tone, you need to find a different way to communicate your thoughts” can do wonders. Of course, you need to be empathetic towards them. Also, don’t say anything rude or hurtful. Keep your cool at all times.
16. Identify when to agree to someone else’s demands
As a manager, you’re not always right. You can make mistakes. Part of assertiveness is about expressing that. This is why it’s wise to hear what your team members or partners have to say. Respecting the rights of others, as well as their opinions can lead to better outcomes. So know when you’re wrong and when to agree to the demands of others that are right.
17. Come up with solutions
Manager assertiveness is the ability to come up with solutions. If there is an issue, you must start finding solutions for it right away. But don’t rely on yourself alone. It’s a good idea to let the team offer ideas. This will give you more solutions, and help you build a positive work environment for everyone.
18. Know your limits
Never cross the line of acceptable assertiveness. Remember, if you’re not assertive enough, you’ll be seen as passive. But if you’re too assertive, you’ll be seen as aggressive. You need to understand your limits.
If people are starting to become negative towards you, maybe you should tone your assertiveness down a bit. On the other hand, if team members are being very disrespectful, you should be more assertive. Know your limits and stick to them.
19. Be ready for change
Managers at work need to be adaptable. And the only way you can do that is to be ready and accept change. The more adaptable you are, the more you can be a leader to a team in uncertain times.
20. Build trust
A manager and their team need trust. You can’t be trustworthy if you don’t communicate and connect with your team members. Get to know their personal lives. Do better communication. Give a balanced approach to assertiveness. If employers can trust you, they’ll trust that your assertiveness is for the best.
Now that you know how to be assertive at work as a manager, you should work toward fulfilling all 20 examples. If you do this, you’ll not only be a great manager, but everyone will see more success.
Remember, it takes time to learn these things as not many people are naturally assertive. But if you work on them diligently, you’ll soon be on your way to mastering your manager role. So get practicing and good luck!