How to Coach Angry Leaders

Frustration, used well, fuels transformation. Avoiding it is embracing stagnation.

on fire

I love talking and listening to frustrated leaders. Sure they may say some dumb things, but they say what they mean. Well, to be honest, they might say more than they mean.

3 opportunities:

I’m not advocating temper tantrums, whining fits, emotional explosions, lack of emotional control, or abuse of any kind. I’m saying, get in touch with frustration.

Listen to frustration. It shows you three things.

  1. Who you are. Frustration begins with others, but it’s really about us.
  2. What matters to you.
  3. What needs to change.

Don’t say, “Calm down,” when you encounter an angry leader.

Coaching an angry leader:

  1. What’s got you so fired up?
  2. What makes this important to you?
  3. What does frustration say about you?
  4. What would you like to do about that?

Pivotal moment:

Use anger’s energy to motivate positive action.

The next time you encounter a frustrated colleague, enter into their frustration. Don’t fix it or ignore it.

Big challenge:

Frustration often erupts over things outside your control. The coach’s challenge is helping coachees find things within their control.

Some things aren’t going to change. The issue isn’t governmental regulation, for example, it’s lost productivity and higher costs. Focus your energy on improving efficiencies and lowering costs.

Focus on things you can change; embrace things you can’t.


You can’t control referees and umpires. Focus on your own game. Forget the rest. The same applies to dealing with frustration.

Successful coaches help players:

  1. Dig below frustration.
  2. Tap into what matters.
  3. Focus on things within their control.
  4. Forget what they can’t control.

What are the opportunities of frustration?

How might leaders deal with the dangers of frustration?


I’m excited to announce a partnership with Clarity Development Consulting to offer the proven “Coaching for Engagement” program. Drop me an email if you’d like to explore Bob Hancox and me coming to your organization.