Through the years, I have had my fair share of opportunities to work for, work with, and serve aggressive leaders. I know them well…intimately well…because I am also one of them.
Aggressive leaders are challenging to connect with in a meaningful way; however, once you understand their underlying motivators, you can connect, collaborate with them, and win big.
What are the characteristics of an aggressive leader?
When an aggressive leader walks into a room, you immediately sense their powerful presence. They bring intense energy that you can just feel when they enter, and it definitely gets your attention. Without a word, they naturally take control of the room.
Aggressive leaders tend to walk very hard. Their footsteps are very deliberate, almost as if they are marching into a room.
You usually will find them either carrying something or pointing at something. And you will likely never find them walking slowly with their hands in their pockets.
Aggressive leaders dress in power colors and power suits. They wear power watches and carry power briefcases.
What are the weaknesses of the aggressive leader?
Aggressive leaders have been described as bossy, impatient, quick-tempered, uncaring, too independent, and impetuous. To aggressive leaders, argument is a sport.
Aggressive leaders can come on too strong and be inflexible. They see tears and emotion as weakness. They are unsympathetic. They are not complimentary.
To them, details and analysis are the arch enemies of progress, so don’t even try to get them to address those issues. Trivia bores them.
Aggressive leaders easily become workaholics.
They tend to use people, and they tend to make decisions for others that are not theirs to make. They intrude on other peoples’ space.
They have a tough time saying these two words: “I’m sorry.”
They believe they can do everything better than everybody else. They think they know everything.
What are the needs of the aggressive leader?
To work with an aggressive leader, you must first recognize their needs.
Dealing with aggressive leaders based on their weaknesses can be quite the challenge…until you realize why they are the way they are and how you can work with them in a way that meets their needs and gains their respect for you.
They need loyalty.
If an aggressive leader senses even a hint of disloyalty, they will bail out. Their need for loyalty is so strong that irrespective of personal relationships with individuals, they will cut those ties if they are not serving the greater good of what they are trying to accomplish.
They need to have a sense of control.
They need to be in charge. It’s not that they would like to be in charge, they need to be in charge. They need to know that everything is going the way they want it to go, that they control the details and the outcomes.
Whether you work for them, collaborate with them, or serve them as a client, every time you try to exude control, they’re going to be like a bucking bronco.
They need results.
If you’re trying to sell to an aggressive leader, your best approach is to convey to them how your product or service will deliver better results to them.
They need recognition for exceptional work.
An aggressive leader tries to seem like they are humble, but the reality is, they are inwardly saying, “Yep, I did do great work. Tell me more about that.” When they do amazing work, recognize it, shine the spotlight on it, and use it as a model. This is very important to them.
They need to know that what they are accomplishing matters to the overall vison of the organization.
Aggressive leaders are very aspirational. They continually aspire to the next goal, the next target, and the next level. If you are someone who is managing or leading an aggressive leader, it is important that you constantly let them know how important their contribution is and how it is serving the greater good.
How do you deal with an aggressive leader?
You deal with them as you would other personalities; you give them what they need. In this case, give them loyalty, control, recognition, and results.
If you are the manager of an aggressive leader, your greatest contribution to them would be to help them learn to better connect with people. Aggressive leaders can boldly enter a room, state their case loudly and deliberately, and then leave the room with carnage behind…and not even realize it.
Help them to harness their aggression toward projects and not toward individuals so all can focus together on achieving results. Teach them the art of listening to others. A great book that would help them is my friend John Maxwell’s book, Everyone Communicates Few Connect.
Helping them round off those rough edges is so important. I will tell you that my career was revolutionized when I started to realize I didn’t need to be the boss of everyone and everything…but I do need to be a great collaborative partner.
What are the strengths of aggressive leaders?
Aggressive leaders are great at taking charge, making decisions, and being activators. They are great at getting things started and moving people. They are highly productive and can instill this high productivity in teams, especially if they have developed a good strength of collaboration.
Aggressive leaders are also practical. They look for simple solutions that can be easily implemented. Not easily discouraged, they are goal-oriented, and they will get things done.
While many who lead and follow aggressive leaders see their faults, wise leaders and followers will tap into their strengths and find the value they truly have to offer to the organization.