Developing your assertive side in the workplace can really help you in your quest to become more a better leader without being aggressive. We sometimes picture assertive people as thinking all about themselves and very demanding. Rather, assertive people express their feelings, needs, and opinions in a forthright manner. However, they stop short of “do it because i said so” behavior that is the hallmark of the aggressive person.
Often the best way to understand something is by comparison. People with poor self-esteem often have an inferiority complex. They choose passive responses to life. They feel helpless or insecure. They may feel put-upon and resentful, but have a difficult time saying “no.”
On the other hand, people with low self-esteem may also be arrogant, pompous, and presumptuous and seem to have a superiority complex. They meet life in an aggressive way.
The assertive person is someone who communicates with others on the best of all possible levels.
The Building Blocks of Accountability
Transparency: All processes in an organization must be as transparent as possible. Big questions, like how executive bonuses and raises are determined, have recently received a lot of attention. The basic process must be shared, and specific numbers should be made public. Encourage your employees to ask questions and give them honest answers. Wouldn’t you expect the same from them?
Honesty: Demand honesty from all employees at all levels. Everyone should be accountable to someone. Ensure that employees have access to the information that they need to make decisions based on real-time information.
Credibility: Ensure employees are in a position where they can have credibility. Don’t, for example, move a person from VP of production to VP of sales when they have no sales experience. Your staff (managers, leaders, and executives in particular) need credibility to be accountable. They can build their credibility by sharing past, relevant experiences with staff, or do so yourself on the company Web site, through a memo, or in a newsletter.
Integrity: Integrity means following your values and being accountable day in and day out. It means acting consistently, so that people can rely on you, in good situations and in tough spots. Give your employees the support they need to be reliable in their values.
Trust: Employees must trust each other to make honest decisions, to do good work, to generally act for the good of the company, and to be accountable for their decisions. Members of a company must also trust each other to ask questions and to test their accountability and reliability.