On the surface Abigail is an everyday woman. Beneath the surface she is an assertive leader.

An assertive leader’s language may be artfully vague and her body language gentle, but never doubt that she is always focused on what she wants. Even though she may lead you all over the place, she always has her goal in mind.

Abigail is in front of her management team, catching some softball questions from her managers. She’s finding out a lot more from them about how they’re going to handle the next year’s challenges than they’re finding out from her because of her talent at seeing beneath the surface. She’s been observing and listening but hasn’t lost sight of why they are there. She uses the meeting’s informality to catch Mike, the head of their shipping division, with his guard down.

“Mike, congrats to you, what a month. I’m looking forward to your report.”

“Thanks,” replies Mike. “You know, we’ve been so busy running all over the place getting orders out, we just didn’t have the time to write an official report. Do you guys mind if I just wing it?”

Abigail smiles and bobs her head thoughtfully. Then she replies with a gentle tone.

“Actually, I do mind, for two reasons. One, if your people are that stretched, they may be feeling up, or down, or close to rebellion. A written report would go a long way toward telling us how staff morale is holding up under all this pressure, as well as provide some hard numbers on customer satisfaction. And second, it sounds like you could have done with some help down there, but we can’t give you what you don’t ask for. Do you think you could have a report ready by our next meeting?”

Abigail knows that what she wants from this meeting is an in-depth and comprehensive look at where her company is at this very moment in time—and anyone who stands between her and that information, like Mike, had better watch out.

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