10 Ways to be Angry Like a Leader
Leaders who suppress anger live with the ponderous weight of things unsaid.
Embrace the power of letting yourself be angry.
Anger isn’t the main issue, expression is.
Spontaneous expressions of anger like mouthing off or blowing up elevate heat and make matters worse. “I need to get something off my chest,” often expresses selfish-immaturity.
Use anger. Don’t simply express it.
3 negative consequences of ignoring anger:
- Energy eventually goes down.
- Relationships grow distant.
- Mediocrity seeps in.
The idea that anger is bad eliminates an important source of energy in every leader’s life.
10 ways to be angry like a leader:
You don’t need to get something off your chest. You need to learn how to:
- Get some rest. A short fuse gets shorter when you’re fatigued.
- Reflect, rather than withdraw. Understand your values and priorities.
- Deal with issues quickly, rather than putting them off. Frustration is an invitation to constructive action. It’s time to act if the issue still bugs you after twenty-four hours.
- Talk things over with someone who doesn’t have a dog in the fight.
- Clarify what matters and address tough issues. The heat and smoke of anger typically focus on surface issues. You don’t need to say, “I’m angry.” You need to say, “This matters.”
- Develop a plan with goals and behaviors.
- Open your mouth to make things better. Venting, like a two year old, seldom makes things better. The only time to open your mouth is to make something better.
- Dig into issues that trouble you. Perhaps you don’t know the whole story. It’s tragic to be misinformed and angry.
- Connect with people who share your vision. It’s frustrating to be on a team where everyone pulls in a different direction.
- Stay on course. Anger, used well, is a compass.
You lose part of yourself when you ignore anger.
How might anger be useful to leaders?
What concerns you about this topic?
Dan – thank you for this thoughtful piece. I agree anger is an emotion that can hold great value for people. Some believe the gift of anger is motivation, direction and boundary setting, all of which are important for leaders. Others believe emotions are connected to and triggered by our values so when we feel anger, if we reflect (as you mention above) we can begin to see the connection which helps us better understand ourselves and become more aligned to our values.
Thanks Kathy. This topic feels a bit awkward to me, but I think it’s worth the conversation. The idea of boundaries wasn’t even on my radar. Thanks for sharing your insights. Very helpful.
Helpful as always, Dan. Happy New Year!
Thanks Donna. Happy New Year!
Yeah, but you guys probably do not deal with Charter / Spectrum cable. (grin)
I sometimes wait a week or more before I followup on something. I have calls to make to Citibank and Discover and AIG because of their screwups and would actually like to deal with artificial intelligence and robotics than some of the “customer service people” that I connect to. It is NOT the people, but they are constrained by their systems and processes and cannot do the simple or think out of the box, in most cases. With AI, they would build a bigger box, I think.
I DO think it is okay to express anger, but I do not think catharsis is a real thing. Venting does not seem to remove or release the anger. In the summer, the Big Bus in DC did an awful job and eventually dumped 22 of us at the far end of their route because of time. I gave them a horrible Yelp review about two hours ago; there was no response to the letter I wrote two weeks after their horrible service. No response from DC Tourism Office, either.
No accountability and no corrective action makes me angry. But it doesn’t affect my typing!
Thanks Dr. Scott. Love the idea of express vs. catharsis. What I read is that traditional venting actual increases anger.
Best wishes with your calls!
How might anger be useful to leaders? Sometimes anger gets the point through to the deaf ears, although if the ears are not listening may be a sign to change your approach.Perhaps we need to ” tame the anger”, not merely venting.
What concerns you about this topic? Really needs to be discussed, anger restricted can result in serious health problems, we have to learn to release or your heading to your grave!
Managing anger is the true art which can be mitigated with various techniques, the 10 second relax and breath, get up and walk away, channel your anger to a positive ending!
Oh, so useful. Turning something stereotypically bad into channelled goodness! And this year I look at things through the ‘health’ OneWord too (another concept from Dan from a few years back), which this helps with quite a bit – thank you Dan! 🙂
Agree with you, Tim. Holding on to unexpressed anger has been proven to contribute to a whole host of health related issues. Misdirected anger can shut down a team or an individual and can create a culture of distrust. Anger may also be a sign of something that you, as a leader, need to reflect on internally. It can be a path to growth for you and your team.
I’m big on the 10 rule I was taught as a teenager. If you can’t control your anger and need to have a conversation, walk away and count to 10. If that doesn’t work, walk away for 10 minutes, or 10 hours, if needed. It’s OK to be angry. Anger can be a very valid and necessary response to a situation. Learning how to express anger in a way that makes positive change or stops a harmful behavior is an important leadership skill, one I’m still working on this one. 🙂
Thanks, Dan, for another great post to start off 2017!
Great article, thanks!
Basically you have applied a biblical principle:
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.
Agree, but anger grows over time and often seems a very irrational emotion, which does not help with getting one’s point across. This is why I think it is important to nip any issues in the bud early on whilst you are still in control of your emotions, such as anger – controlling your emotions before they control you.
Thanks a lot
I think it is particularly important to recognize the power dynamic between players in any situation where the anger stems from actions or inactions by one person presumably against another. Parties in a relatively equal footing in terms of power, status or ability to act will tend to have different perceptions and options compared to those on an unequal footing.
When someone has done something believed to be unfair, unethical, immoral, illegal, counter-productive or unjustified it is important to recognize this dynamic. When the boss is angry at you it is very different than when you are angry at him/her. As a practical matter, unfortunately being right or being “in the right”, simply doesn’t often matter for those in the lesser role. They will tend to suffer negative consequences from a bosses anger regardless of who is in the right or wrong.
Using anger and frustration as a way to identify what matters to you is one of the most useful things I’ve learnt in my career. Sometimes, when people suppress anger I find that others may tend to ignore them.
However, I’ve found that expressing anger openly sometimes lets people know that “this is important” and in some ways, it shows you care. It’s a fine line though. You can’t just blow your top in a professional work environment. But sometimes “strategic” anger can be useful.