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What is Assertive Leadership? Key Characteristics and Examples

Effective leadership is crucial for driving success and achieving organisational goals.

One style of leadership that has gained significant attention is assertive leadership.

In this blog post, we'll delve into assertive leadership and its key characteristics and provide examples relevant to managers.

Person demonstrating assertive leadership in the workplace

What is Assertive Leadership?

Assertive leadership is a style of leadership that involves confidently expressing one's ideas and opinions while respecting the thoughts and contributions of others. It strikes a balance between being too passive or submissive and overly aggressive or domineering.

Assertive leaders are adept at communicating, setting boundaries, and making decisions decisively, all while fostering a collaborative and respectful work environment.

5 Key Characteristics of Assertive Leadership:

1. Clear Communication:

Assertive leaders excel in communicating their expectations, goals, and feedback directly and transparently. They are effective listeners who encourage open dialogue and provide constructive criticism when necessary.

2. Confidence and Self-Assurance:

Assertive leaders exude confidence in their abilities and decisions. They trust their judgment and are not swayed by external pressure or opinions, instilling confidence in their team members and garnering respect from peers.

3. Respect for Others:

Respecting the opinions, feelings and contributions of others is a cornerstone of assertive leadership. These leaders value diversity of thought and create an inclusive environment where every voice is heard and valued.

4. Setting Boundaries:

Assertive leaders establish clear boundaries and expectations for themselves and their team members. They are assertive in saying "no" when necessary, prioritising tasks and delegating responsibilities effectively.

5. Conflict Resolution Skills:

Handling conflicts with diplomacy and professionalism is another hallmark of assertive leadership. These leaders address conflicts head-on, seeking mutually beneficial solutions and maintaining positive relationships within the team.

Examples of Assertive Leadership:

1. Decision-Making:

An assertive leader confidently makes decisions based on available information and sound judgment. For example, a manager might decide to implement a new strategy despite resistance from some team members, knowing it's in the best interest of the company.

2. Providing Feedback:

Assertive leaders give feedback in a direct yet constructive manner. For instance, a manager might provide feedback to a team member on areas needing improvement, offering specific examples and actionable suggestions for growth.

3. Setting Expectations:

Setting clear expectations is vital for assertive leadership. A manager might communicate expectations regarding project deadlines, quality standards, and team performance, ensuring everyone is aligned and accountable.

4. Handling Conflicts:

In interpersonal conflicts, assertive leaders address the issue promptly and impartially. They facilitate open discussions, encourage empathy and understanding among parties, and work towards finding a resolution that benefits all involved.


Assertive leadership is a powerful approach that empowers managers to lead with confidence, clarity, and integrity. By embodying the characteristics of assertive leadership and applying them in their daily interactions, managers can foster a culture of trust, collaboration, and high performance within their teams.

By embracing assertive leadership principles, managers can navigate challenges, inspire their teams and steer their organisations towards greater success.

leadership skills handbook for the public sector