How to Use Frustration to Expand Your Leadership
Frustration usually points at people and circumstances. But frustration is also an opportunity to look at yourself, to elevate and expand your leadership.
Your frustration is ABOUT you, before it’s about others.
The source of frustration seems to be “out there”. But frustration is about your strengths, values, plans, priorities, and expectations.
Anger drives you to look outside yourself. It takes humility, courage, resolve, and skill to engage in self-reflection when you’re frustrated.
Frustration and reflection:
Frustration is the brightest mirror you will ever look into. The reflection is unguarded and unvarnished.
Reflect on frustration to see yourself, even though you prefer to see others.
- What makes this person/situation frustrating?
- What does your frustration say about you?
- What do you want that you aren’t getting?
- What’s important?
Frustration and judgement:
You’re frustrated with people when they don’t think or act like you. As if you’re the standard!
You’re frustrated with team members who don’t follow-up because YOU’RE great at follow-up. But you ignore their lack of people skills because you’re a turnip when it comes to building relationships.
I get frustrated with the way Doers respond to new ideas. Why can’t they be more like me?
A Doer responds to new ideas with concern, even skepticism. They love to finish what they start.
I respond to new ideas like a dog chasing a tennis ball. What are you waiting for?
I could be listening to people who know how to get things done, rather than judging them.
Frustration and triggers:
Use frustration as a trigger to open your mind, rather than judging or correcting.
Use frustration to trigger curiosity.
- What’s happening?
- What’s important?
- What am I missing?
- What makes this better?
Don’t blame others for making you frustrated. Your frustration is about you.
How might leaders use frustration to enhance or expand their leadership?
I plead “guilty” your honour! This really resonates, but damn! that’s hard. I need to put those triggers to use tomorrow – after some mindful reflection tonight. Thanks Dan. very timely
Thanks Adam. I find it takes real resolve to self-reflect on frustration. I prefer to OTHER-REFLECT. Best wishes
As we mature in Leadership we find ways to “take things in stride”, you either delegate the fix or do it yourself.
pending on the source of the issue determines how we fix it. “Frustration” occurs we just have to look past the anger moment and rationalize how to move on without sinking the ship.
Thanks for jumping in,Tim. I get a sense of making things better from your comment. If we aren’t careful, frustration makes things worse. Cheers
I appreciate your way of looking at this emotion,I believe that it’s about having emotional intelligence and developing your EQ through these situations. In short, to have emotional intelligence means to
– Be able to identify the emotion (in this case frustration)
– The ability to regulate the emotion (and this is honestly the hardest part!!)
– And lastly relationship management (having influence, still being able to inspire as a leader, etc.)
I like your ways of using frustration to trigger curiosity – I would say that this can also be a reflection stage? To help build emotional intelligence and of course deal better with the next frustrating situation.
Great post, as always Dan. I just want to see if I am misunderstanding something. You wrote: “You’re frustrated with team members who don’t follow-up because YOU’RE great at follow-up. But you ignore their lack of people skills because you’re a turnip when it comes to building relationships.”
Should it be “you ignore their people skills because you’re a turnip when it comes to building relationships.” instead?
Dan, I love your blog…I hope you know that. I have heard many cite THEIR leaders inability to do what you recommend (here and always), as a source of frustration. It can be a terribly difficult place to be where you try to be the best leader you can, but your leader lives in authority, defensiveness…to expand on Tim’s metaphor, a leader’s leader is driving the boat toward the iceberg and ignoring all the warnings…
I’ve found that when I get frustrated as many of the items mentioned above but as I continue to say with Millennials and Z’s if I just calm myself, become more patient that it is really is as noted above about me and not them. Can I dial back my expectations into a more focused means to find a solution to the challenge that will get the result I feel is needed. I usually am able to figure out a way around the “roadblocks” that i see in or from others. Sometimes I have to plant the seed and water it in a way that gets them to do what is needed thinking it is their idea and not mine. My frustration turns to delight as I am able to craft the solution and get it done. Now if only they had the “work ethic” desire, passion and drive I have been blessed with and have been able to pass along to my children.
I like this one, especially this thought, which made me chuckle:
Youâre frustrated with people when they donât think or act like you. As if youâre the standard!
I think this was similar to what I said to Teri the other day in my little vent of frustration! Made me think about âwho made me the standardâ!
Jeez, I hope a couple of these replies were “tongue in cheek”.
Thanks Dan, I needed this following a weekend event of total frustration.
Ouch! “You’re frustrated with people when they don’t think or act like you. As if you’re the standard!” That one hurt! Today is the day I needed to read that.
Thanks, for always speaking truth and helping us grow.
On the mark, again. Our frustration is us trying to solve a problem we think we can solve, but are actually poorly equipped to do so. That’s the irony of this situation. We THINK we are better at solving the issue, than we really are.
By stepping back, and focusing on everyone’s strengths, and leveraging those strengths that solve the problem best, we will become less frustrated, and more delighted.
Like you, I do well at chasing balls. But every now and then, the ball gets stuck under a chair. And sometimes I sit there, barking at it. Not helpful. Step back. Let someone else figure it out. Then go back to chasing balls.
Great seeing you here Alf. I love the illustration of barking at the ball!! So helpful. Be well
Love this! Frustration is usually a consequence of idealism and optimism relative to reality. Frustration is also a great stimulus to examine the expectations and motivations our personal [selfish] desires and will. Upon introspection, frustration is usually a reaction to our own insecurities, impatience, and irritations.