How assertive should you be?


Keep it balanced. High assertiveness can hurt relationships while low assertiveness limits goal-achievement:

We propose that individual differences in assertiveness play a critical role in perceptions of leaders. In contrast to prior work focused on linear effects, we argue that individuals seen as either markedly low or high in assertiveness are generally appraised as less effective leaders. Moreover, we claim that perceptions of leaders as having “too much” or “too little” assertiveness are widespread. We link the curvilinear effects of assertiveness to underlying tradeoffs between social outcomes (high assertiveness worsens relationships) and instrumental outcomes (low assertiveness limits goal-achievement). In three studies using qualitative and quantitative approaches, we find support for our account. Our results suggest that assertiveness (and other constructs with nonlinear effects) may be overlooked in research focused on identifying what “makes” a leader rather than what “breaks” a leader.

Source: “What Breaks a Leader: The Curvilinear Relation Between Assertiveness and Leadership” from Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Forthcoming

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