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Top Dog on a Tightrope: The Delicate Art of Being Perfectly Assertive

Source | LinkedIn : By Bob Sutton

The best bosses stay in tune with how their words and deeds are construed by their followers – that’s a central theme in my book Good Boss, Bad Boss.  But talking about being in tune with others is a lot easier than doing it.  There is much about being a human being that makes such perspective-taking difficult, and wielding power over others makes it even harder to do.

One area where self-awareness is particularly hard to gain has to do with one’s level of assertiveness. Bosses often can’t tell when they’re pushing people too hard versus not challenging, questioning, and coaching them intensely enough. As research conducted by Daniel Ames and Frank Flynn suggests (see this pdf), striking the right balance between being too assertive and not assertive enough is essential to being (and being perceived as) a great boss.

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