Feel Like Blowing Up? Here’s How!

I never met a leader worth their salt that wasn’t angry about something. Anger is easy to feel but hard to express, usefully.

Occasionally, great leaders blow up. It’s recorded that Jesus flew into a public rage twice.

The good side of anger is it gets things done in a hurry.

Public anger:

  1. Gives permission for others to respond aggressively to injustice.
  2. Authorizes the frustrations others feel but seldom express.
  3. Motivates action.
  4. Should be a means of last resort.

Down sides:

Admittedly, anger is dangerous. Blowing up creates fear, instability, clamming up, or blowing up in return. On the other hand, anger held-in leads to feeling helpless and depressed.

Anger rooted in fear and weakness is most dangerous of all. Think of a weak leader’s selfish tantrums over not getting what they want or self-protective attacks directed at perceived threats.

Up sides:

  1. Anger intensifies focus.
  2. Anger at things is easier than anger at people. Publicly express anger at threats, injustice, or enemies. You lose when you attack people.
  3. Anger points to what’s wrong; zeal to what’s right. Zeal to make things better is the useful face of anger.

Things not people:

Anger at an enemy galvanizes and motivates the troops. Your enemy could be waste, lost opportunities, or disappointing customers.

Go for it:

Anger and change are bed mates.

Is it ever appropriate for desk pounding, red faced, vein popping anger? Yes. Imagine a meeting where a leader’s zeal overflows because things must to be better. It’s not anger at the people around the table; its noble zeal rooted in confidence that the team can make a difference. “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”


You may never pound a desk but publicly expressing anger is useful when it stands on noble values. Ask yourself and your team what makes you mad. Is it time to let it out publicly? Could it be the beginning of change?


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