Using assertiveness when leading tech teams
Jose Arcos, Lead WordPress Developer at Ekkiden, shares from his experience leading Dev teams how assertiveness is the key ingredient in his daily language and communication with his team.
Communication is one of the most important skills to develop in any career, but above all, one of the key skills to succeed in leadership roles.
However, effective communication implies assertive communication. — A key component for engineering leaders: Say the right thing at the right time, in the right way.
Being assertive allows us to express our opinions, needs and feelings without ignoring or harming the opinions, needs, and others' feelings.
💊 For this pill 26, we have a special guest: Jose Arcos, Lead WordPress Developer at Ekkiden, who will share from his experience leading Dev teams how assertiveness is the key ingredient in his daily language and communication with his team.
Assertiveness in the workplace
Is assertiveness a buzzword among psychologists or coaching experts, or is it really a quality worth paying attention to?
I always wonder when I read about new terms: how much they will squeeze it until it becomes a hackneyed term, at what point it will become a catchphrase for snake oil salesman.
However, with assertiveness, I don't feel the same, I learned about this quality a few years ago, and since then, I have observed myself and my environment on how we can use it in our daily language and work communication.
What is Assertiveness
The Oxford Dictionary defines it as follows:
“the quality of expressing opinions or desires in a strong and confident way, so that people take notice”
Although this expression falls short, it lacks the best part of the definition. Expressing opinions assertively includes at least two characteristics, that the sender does not give up his or her principles or internal standards, and that the receiver does not feel that his or her own is being invaded.
A definition I like better is included in Dorland's Medical Dictionary:
“a form of behavior characterized by a confident declaration or affirmation of a statement without need of proof; this affirms the person's rights or point of view without either aggressively threatening the rights of another (assuming a position of dominance) or submissively permitting another to ignore or deny one's rights or point of view”.
What is the key?
In our language and actions, assertiveness helps us respect the rights of others. Although assertiveness is bidirectional, in this Lidr Pill, we will focus on how to use this quality towards others, i.e., not threatening the rights of others.
Using assertiveness when leading teams
Effective communication helps to detect problems before they grow, to handle incidents in their early stages, and not when the fire is raging out of control.
In order to communicate assertively, one has to change the paradigm. So far, when leading teams, we have been told about the importance of transmitting charisma, leadership, and strength in our words. — But how do the receivers, our teammates, whether they are subordinates or not, feel about our communication?
Instead of starting a sentence by saying "I want you to give top priority to this task", we could rephrase it in its assertive stream "I think this task has a higher priority, what do you think?".
At first glance, it may seem like a disadvantage, the second option forces a conversation, while the first is an imperative statement.
Benefits of implementing assertive language
As managers, using assertive communication with the team will keep the lines of communication always open, a team or worker who feels respected, will be willing to express themselves freely.
If you liked this topic, I invite you to take a look at the following resources:
📚 Free resources to grow as a great Engineering Lead.
📙 The Power of a Positive No: How to Say No and Still Get to Yes.
This indispensable book gives you a simple three-step method for saying a Positive No. It will show you how to assert and defend your key interests; how to make your No firm and strong; how to resist the other side's aggression and manipulation; and how to do all this while still getting to Yes.
🎥 The Beauty of Assertiveness
While many people believe that assertiveness is rude and ugly, Dr. Abby presents in this TEDx talk the beauty of assertiveness as a way to show the world that we are smart, kind, and important.
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