The world is full of bullies, abrasive managers, abusive operators and a smattering of sociopaths parading as visionary leaders but devoid of any empathy for other people. We deal everyday with people pushing their agendas on us in archaic attempts to “get buy-in” and what they want from us.
I’ve only been in one fight. I have never thrown a punch but received two in the face from the school bully in grade five. Steven picked some poor kid every Monday and goaded him all week to show up on Friday afternoon to get beat up in the playground in front of much of the school. Humiliating to say the least. One Monday I got the tap. I spent the week deflecting his provocations but for some reason appeared at the end of the week in front of the mob to reiterate my refusal to participate. He did his "business" and I walked away. I remember feeling ashamed that day but he never bothered me again. In fact, that was one of the last times I ever remember being bullied.
In asserting myself somewhat accidentally that day in the school yard, I think I became less “bulliable”. I didn't fight the bully but I did confront him and in doing so I think I might have earned myself some self-respect. I think I switched off that part of myself that attracted or allowed other people to take advantage of me by force. Interestingly, I don't remember my bully beating anyone else up after that. Maybe he learned something about him self that day too.
Assertiveness I think lives in a narrow band between aggression and submission, neither of which really work in a leadership context. Assertive leadership makes us less open to being victimized and less likely to be the victimizer.
To assert myself as a leader means operating from a strong sense of purpose. I am aware of and committed to creating what is most important both to me and the people I want to serve. When opportunities and offers arise from other people I know better when to say “yes please” and more importantly when to say “no thank you.” I am neither overly aggressive as a bully myself or overly submissive as an open target for another bully.
Self-respect may well be the key in earning respect from other people.