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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.

  1. What makes this person/situation frustrating?
  2. What does your frustration say about you?
  3. What do you want that you aren’t getting?
  4. 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.

  1. What’s happening?
  2. What’s important?
  3. What am I missing?
  4. 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?

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