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The Road to Assertiveness

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

Which of the following words best describes the more effective leadership route: aggressive or passive? We tend to think of successful leaders as aggressive, go-getters who let nothing stand in their way. But aggressive leaders can also be overbearing bosses who exhibit hostile and antagonistic behaviors. Passive leaders, on the other hand, can be meek and inactive. So which is the better path?

Now, you might expect someone who teaches a program called The Leading from the Heart Workshop to say that passive leadership is the better alternative. To be certain, my approach disparages aggressive leadership actions such as intimidating and bullying employees. But "leading from the heart" is not about being a timid, inert leader. It's about being proactive, decisive, positive, and frank, all without dominating over people. In other words, it offers you a third direction: you can be an assertive leader.

Assertiveness is the middle road between aggressive and passive leadership. It's an often overlooked alternative to both pushing people around and getting pushed around. But most of us are not naturally assertive, so we have to make a conscious decision to take the middle lane. Choose assertiveness and see the difference it makes for you.


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