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From Pushover to Powerful Leader

“I’m just too nice for my own good!”  It’s a statement I hear from a lot of the clients I work with.  Leaders who want to be more assertive, but who do an involuntary sphincter clench at the thought.

So I thought I would share with you today, what “being too nice” is actually doing to your team, and how to be powerfully assertive without swapping nice, for nasty.

First of all, let’s acknowledge something – leadership aint for the feint hearted! It can be a brutal, thankless gig that may regularly have you wondering if you’d be better off taking a nightfall job at your local supermarket … or at the very least, dreaming of a desert island, devoid of people.

We are often trained to manage budgets, schedules, policies and projects, but we aren’t often taught how to manage people.

Balancing empathy and accountability can be a full-time job on it’s own – especially when you don’t see a lot of it being returned.  If you feel like you’re needing to pander to personalities and avoid the tricky stuff to dodge the confrontation landmines, then go grab yourself a cuppa, because this is for you.

While being approachable and understanding are admirable qualities, is it time to reflect on whether you’re really being a supportive leader, or whether you’re actually being a bit of a pushover.  If you’re the latter, you’re not alone, as this “keep the peace” style of leadership is more common than you think, but it can have detrimental effects on both the team dynamic and the overall success of your business (and its reputation).

I’m going to break this down for you, so you can digest it in smaller chunks, then, if you resonate with any of these, I’ll share how I can help you detonate the issues, instead of your leadership.  


One of the primary reasons we shy away from difficult conversations is the fear of conflict and confrontation. Whether it’s addressing under performance, interpersonal conflicts, or having to give constructive feedback (that you know will sting). 

These conversations can be uncomfortable and anxiety-inducing – which is hardly surprising, because you’re a human not a robot.  You’re probably worried about damaging relationships, upsetting someone, or even worse *gulp* having someone push back!

If you’re currently staring down one of these conversations, I’m betting that you’re up in your head, rehearsing what you’ll say and anticipating how they’ll respond (and let’s face it, it’s probably not pretty). 

Maybe you’re even losing sleep and using crap food, procrastination or regular trips to the bottle shop to try and calm your frayed nerves.  


Look the other way, keep quiet, get busy with other things – they may be your ‘go to’ but have you ever stopped to wonder what “the sound of silence” is really costing you?

In an attempt to avoid discomfort, managers (hell, humans) often resort to avoidant behaviours, such as turning a blind eye, sugar-coating feedback, dropping hints instead of being direct, talking to people individually (so you can tweak the delivery each time), being the ‘better’ person, rising above it, being too busy or hiding behind that old chestnut of “that’s just who they are”.

While these tactics may provide temporary relief, they feed the underlying problems as you are choosing, yes CHOOSING long-term dysfunction over the pain of a short, courageous conversation.

Your avoidance is creating resentment, eroding trust, and is normalising a culture of complacency where mediocrity not only grows, but thrives.


The repercussions of your “I’m too nice” leadership extend far, FAR beyond individual interactions.

When your managers fail to address issues head-on, it sends a message that accountability is not valued, and standards are negotiable. You know what I’m talking about – you see it all the time – different rules for different people. This lack of clarity leads to confusion, frustration, and a massive decline in morale among your team members.

Additionally, what could have been little, simple but bitey conversations, soon escalate into toxic work environments seasoned with gossip, silos, staff taking the p*ss, insubordination and if nothing is done … high turnover rates.

People turn up to work, but don’t actually “show up”.  They withhold information and bring zero f*cks while they leave their creativity, energy, ideas and care factor at home.

You might even be one of them.


As Conflict Resolution Specialist, my heart starts to sing when I have leaders declare that it’s time to stop being a pushover and start being a powerful, respected role model.  People who want to walk the walk, rather than have to bring new undies with them to work every day or walk the long way around so they have less chance of having to deal with the stuff that needs dealing with.

Here’s my biggest tip for you – stop thinking you need all to have all the answers.

I know I bang on about this a lot, but you are a human!  People want to be led by real people, not by hint-droppers, rescuers or people who try to parent them.

The reason you don’t know how to resolve this, is because you are using problem-thinking to try and solve it – which looks like – “assertive = discomfort”.

You’re a rescuer – so if being assertive makes you feel like you need to become the villain, it’s obvious that you’ll avoid it (and your leadership potential) at all costs.

So, let me help you.

My Art of Assertive Leadership Program teaches managers how to confront challenges confidently, even when they’re uncomfortable. I’ll give you all the tools to create a workplace where honesty, integrity, and accountability are not only valued but the new normal.



I’ll send you an overview of the training content – which I can run for your team, or as a one2one executive leadership coaching program –  simply fill out my 2-minute form and I’ll take it from there.

I GUARANTEE you, that the cost of getting me in to work with your leaders, is FAR less than what doing nothing will cost you.  

But, don’t take my word for it.

If you’re wanting leadership training, I highly recommend Leanne Shaw. She is amazing at what she does. Everyone who attended got a lot from it and we learnt techniques that are already proving beneficial to the way we lead our teams and improve our culture moving forwardTanya Baguley – Aurizon

After working with Leanne, our team is a lot more accountable for their actions and is working together to solve rather than just complain. Absenteeism has dropped significantly, and the team is a lot more productive, collaborative and optimistic nowNW – Manager, Waste Operations, Local Govt.

It’s been rough trying to motivate staff and navigate all these personality conflicts, but we’re back to smooth sailing and everyone’s on the same side again. Leanne, you’re a bloody lighthouse in a shit storm! JP – Dept. Education

I feel like I have freaking superpowers! The light has been turned on. I can’t believe the difference. The ripple effect through my work and home life is unbelievableZL – WA Dept. of Health

Leanne Shaw
Senior Coach/Trainer
Leanne Shaw

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