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Lead Without Fear: How Can Women Be More Assertive?

On my Facebook page, I have an area where anyone can ask me questions about the leadership challenges that they run into. I put my responses on the blog, because I know that for every person who asks a questions, there are dozens who are thinking it.   This week’s question comes from Miranda. 

Hi Lisa,

I am coaching women and they seem to have a prevailing need. They are wanting to be more assertive. What advice do you have to help women develop assertiveness?




Hi Miranda,

This is a huge request that I see all the time. It’s also a particularly challenging one because it’s weighted with gender issues. Just being “more” assertive usually doesn’t work for women as there is a double standard in expectations from both men and women on how women should communicate. Complicated, yes?

Rather trying for a general approach of “more assertiveness,” a smarter idea for women in business is to identify when they’re holding back and where and when they want to do something different. Picking your spots for when you want to dig in your heels and battle for what you want is more likely to help you a) get things done and b) communicate value, which is what we’re really after when we want to be more assertive. We must always keep goals in mind, rather than pursuing assertiveness for its own sake.