See Inside April/May 2007

Being Perfectly Bossy

Would you rather work for an aggressive jerk or a spineless wimp? Unsurprisingly, employees do not like either management style. Instead a good manager has to walk the line between too assertive and not assertive enough.

Social psychologist Daniel R. Ames of Columbia Business School and organizational behavior expert Francis J. Flynn of Stanford University were curious about why previous leadership studies rarely had much to say about assertiveness. It seemed unlikely that assertiveness did not matter. What they found is that assertiveness only seems obvious when you get it wrong. “People don’t get credit for getting assertiveness just right. They definitely get criticism when they get it wrong on either side,” Ames says.

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