The Assertiveness Continuum Part 2

How To Lead Using the Assertiveness Continuum – Part 2

Effective leaders choose when to be assertive, aggressive, and passive, within the Assertiveness Continuum, based on the situation.  Situational Leadership means choosing the right leadership and/or communication style for the situation and the person.

Exceptional leaders assess each situation and choose their style that is most likely to produce their desired outcome. They choose the style to use based on the person or people they are communicating with, the urgency of the situation, and the politics of the situation. Great leaders most often operate from an Assertive approach.

Leveraging The Assertiveness Continuum for Great Leadership – Video

The following video is the second of two parts explaining the Assertiveness Continuum and how knowledge of it can help leaders be more assertive.

Sherri Cannon, PCC, Executive Coach and Donna Schilder, MCC, Executive Coach & President, Donna Schilder Coaching, discuss the Assertiveness Continuum.

The Assertiveness Continuum: Part 2

Sherri Cannon, PCC, Executive Coach:

As a leader looking at this then, what does the concept of assertiveness on this continuum actually mean for me?

Knowing About the Assertiveness Continuum Allows Leaders to Choose How They Behave

Donna Schilder, MCC, Executive Coach:

What it means is that you have choices for how you behave and that you need to make a choice based on the situation to create the best business outcome. So, you may want to lean a little right of assertive in one situation and a little left of assertive in another situation. But if you don’t know about this and if you’re not clear when you’re being each of these and what the behaviors are, you don’t have the choices and you default to whatever you’re most comfortable with.


Right, default always. I find it so interesting to me that it’s not just like hit the middle and stick there, right? But that this, as you’re saying, really represents choices. So I think most of us, right, they or us or whoever we are, but leadership development folks, experts would say, you want to be in that assertive range more of the time. But I’m also hearing that there are times to actually choose aggressive or to choose passive behavior, so tell me about that.

When Is Aggressive Leadership Behavior Appropriate?


Yeah. So times to choose aggressive behavior or more aggressive behavior is when there’s an emergent situation. So when a customer is at risk, when a vendor is at risk, when an employee is at risk, that’s when you want to make a choice to be more aggressive. A great example of that is doctors in the ER. They are very aggressive. They say sit down, lay down, and they control you because it’s an emergent situation. But your GP is more just assertive with you.



When is Passive Leadership Behavior Appropriate?


There’s also times when being passive is more appropriate. It could be when your boss is really emotional about a certain topic. It’s just good to roll with it if they’re really strongly feeling that a certain solution should be implemented. Also, if a customer is really angry, at least initially you’re going to be a little passive and then you’re going to move into action and be assertive.


So I hear that there’s really … If a leader begins to really master the being in the ideal place arranged on this continuum, then they can be more effective. What’s happening for their own feeling about just contentment wise or happiness? What are you seeing now?

Leaders Who Are More Assertive Are Happier and More Productive


Well, I always want to say that it’s very difficult to follow an unhappy leader.

So I do think that part of our job as a coach is to help people be happier. And this is one way we do it because there’s less conflict when you’re assertive, things go more smoothly.

You don’t get surprised by things as much. You take care of your employees and your staff and they’re happier. And when they’re happier, you’re happier. And when you take this home and you’re more assertive with your loved ones, you’re going to also be happier. And that’s true with your children, your spouse. It’s just a more direct way of communicating. You let people know what you expect of them, what you want of them. You give them feedback in a timely manner, you directly communicate and that does make us happier.

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