Should a Project Manager be aggressive or assertive?

What is the difference between aggressiveness & assertiveness? Should a Project Manager be aggressive or assertive?

Questions by uma101

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  • May 24th, 2008

Project Manager neither be aggressive nor assertive always. Project Manager should wear aggressiveness in some situations and assertiveness in majority of the situations.  e.g Your team member is asking for a leave which is a genuine but you have deadlines to complete the project due to that you cannot approve his leave.

In this situation, you should try to explain him milestone of the project and approves his leave if he stretches complete his scheduled work. ===> Assertiveness (WIN - WIN)

If you directly say "I cannot approve your leave" then this would motivate your team member.


  • Jun 7th, 2008

Assertive management is the correct posture for the project manager to assume when a matter of unscheduled leave impacts the project. But granting unscheduled leave places a greater burden on the project team as a whole. That fact must be assumed by the staff member asking for the leave, and it should be stated that the workload added to the remaining staff will delay or jeopardize the success of the project.
Denying the leave will probably not motivate the team member to meet milestone requirements with the same level of quality. It will motivate others on the team to stretch their capability if the value of missing team member is deemed worthy of that effort. This would be a factor in team building. It would not be justification for schedule slippage.

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The project manager should be aggressive and assetrive on the demand of the situation. He should be assertive on assesing the capabilities of the teams he is attached to and aggressive in time planning and it's implementations to attain the ultimate sucesses.

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Reviewing the answers below and getting a feel for the line of thinking therein, I am compelled to say that a project manager must be neither aggressive nor assertive when it comes to resources and schedules. A project manager must be collaborative and realistic, when it comes to teams and schedules. A project manager is not a “direct-line people manager” for the teams. A project manager has no real authority over the team members, and does not “make up” a schedule.


Here is where the aggressiveness and assertiveness come into play.

A project manager must be aggressive in championing the cause of the project, project team, customer needs, leadership directives and organizational processes and best practices, both inward and outward (to the project teams).

A project manager must be assertive in times or chaos, confusion, and doubt, to provide clear direction and leadership to the team.


A project manager is someone who has zero authority and 100% accountability over his/her team activities. Therefore, the focus is on the softer skills – how to motivate teams, how to collaborate with teams, how to understand others’ perspectives, how to ensure work-life balance to the team members, how to communicate with them effectively, how to listen, how to make the team want to follow, and how to get more commitments from the team (not because they “have” to commit more, but because they “want” to commit more).


  • Apr 10th, 2010

I agree, PM can neither be aggressive not assertive. New PM methodologies like scrum

Critical Chain, focus on "FOCUS". Nothing should be done to the team  which will distract the focus of the team. PM should be adopting a servant leadership philosophy. PM should  plan (to  accommodate the unknowns) . This situation is well resolved using CCPM Project Buffers.

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