A Conversation with an Angry Leader

anger goose

Leaders who aren’t frustrated are aiming too low.

But, leaders who can’t manage their anger grow bitter, destroy their health, and disconnect with employees.

I had a conversation with a young angry leader this week. He’s angry at the response of the people in his organization. Like many leaders, he hasn’t learned to manage anger’s fire.


Mismanaged anger causes:

  1. Discouragement.
  2. Withdrawal.
  3. Blame.
  4. All or nothing thinking.
  5. My way or the highway attitudes.
  6. Self-pity and feeling unappreciated.
  7. Escape. Looking for greener, easier pastures.


Some leaders don’t have the courage to get angry. Or, if they do, it’s an expression of weakness and they use it poorly.

Leaders who get angry care.

I’ll take them over those who don’t every time. Leaders who don’t get angry are going with the flow. But, real leaders go against the flow.

Real leaders are hard to manage. They don’t settle and they don’t like being told what to do.

The trouble with mediocre leaders is they domesticate their fires.


I asked my young friend, “What are you angry about?

He said, “People only care for themselves.”

I asked, “What do you want?”

He said, “I want people to care about others more.”


I asked my friend, “What is the job of a leader?”

We talked, for a bit, about the role of leaders. Finally, I said, “Leaders move people from point “A” to point “B.” Do the people you lead need to be moved?


Anger points to opportunity when you rise above blame or defeat. Avoid pointing anger at people, both yourself and others.

Focused anger creates boldness.

Focused anger:

  1. Overcomes reluctance.
  2. Clarifies expectations.
  3. Energizes forward movement.

Outbursts are out. Unharnessed anger destroys. But harnessed anger energizes.

How can leaders harness anger?