Getting angry might emotionally satisfy you, but IS ineffective as a means of motivating people.
Being a choleric: staying in control of situations, on the top, the best in everything, is my leadership temperament. In the past, I hated losing. Nothing frustrated me more than when things don’t get done or work out as planned.
An occasional outburst of anger was a natural occurrence, both in the office and at home. Somehow, I thought this is how leaders were supposed to lead.
Over the years as my Leadership Lid developed, it became evident the best of leaders don’t use anger as a leadership tool to influence their followers.
Even though leadership came naturally to me, today I am thankful to all of my mentors; I’ve learned that “Leadership is Influence” and there are better ways to influence people who do not require a “Nazi styled approached.”
Most leaders believe that anger is a necessary means to get things done. There are countless examples of successful leaders who never get angry. In fact, anger only compromises your effectiveness and diminishes your reputation.
Have you ever been warned by a colleague that your new boss or team leader ‘has a temper’? Your reputation will always be judged.
Occasional anger is recoverable (with an apology). However, it does not take much to become branded as an angry leader. Anger is not a reputation that you want to precede you, even if you are military personnel.
The downside of leading with anger is that it does not have lasting value to usher in change. The cost to your followers or organisation far exceeds its worth. Emotional volatility is its fruit which quenches creativity, and it makes it very hard for people to ‘want’ to follow you. Anger may make you feel better, but everyone else just feels worse. It may energise the team for a short time, but never the long haul.
I have noticed every time I fell victim to continual stress or fatigue; I would lose grip on my self-control. Resulting in anger outbursts, which I regretted afterwards.
A leader can have the finest character, but sustained stress and fatigue can bring the worst of out him.
For instance, you work 96 hours plus a week, so naturally, you’re irritable: you ignore a healthy diet resulting in a depleted glucose level, you lash out at your staff who make silly mistakes. You’re exhausted at home because of the demands of your high-paced work, your spouse has a ‘husband-do list’ and your kids have a ‘Dad-do list.’
Your personal energy, patience, emotional control, intellectual and physical threshold is challenged. As a CEO, business leader, entrepreneur or pastor – anger seems to be the option to release the internal tension.
However, that is not an excuse.
Remember, followers are reluctant to bring their problems and challenges to an angry leader; a key sign of a trusting relationship.
Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.
An angry leader will stifle creativity, the very element needed to solve complex organisational problems. Whether it’s a permanent personality trait or an ‘every once in a while’ outburst… anger is not worth it!
Three Principles For Avoiding Angry Leadership
So, you need to avoid leading when you’re angry. You need to find out if anger is a behaviour you display publicly; figure out how to detect it and then emplace controls to prevent or redirect your anger when it arises. Here are some ideas:
1. Invite Feedback From a Trusted Friend or Mentor
Honest, open communication from those you lead or those you know and trust, will shed light on your leadership blind spot.
Unless you are willing to humble yourself and commit to really listening to that feedback, don’t waste their time.
2. Control Your Tongue
The priority of a leader is not himself. There is a proverb that says,
“Wisdom is too high for fools; in the assembly at the gate they must not open their mouths.”
The wise have their tongues controlled by loving emotional and sound thoughts. They speak their internalised knowledge of morality in a way to reveal it’s attractiveness.
Instead of brutalising people in the boardroom, they are kind, sensitive and gentle with an aim to save and not destroy their followers. In contrast, the mouth of a fool who heatedly gushes forth words that destroy, hurt and torment their environment.
Wise leaders understand the difference between the ‘proper and improper use of the tongue.’
3. Take a deep breath, count to 10 and release
Leaders never react, they respond. Reactive leading is “stimulus then immediate reaction.” Responsive leading is “stimulus, pause, reflect, then react.”
If you witness a mistake and become frustrated, take a deep breath, count to 10 then release.
The idea is to gather a consensus of the mistake before responding.
This exercise will bring the mistake into context, foster greater accountability or you can act up like a baby who just lost his favourite toy, and that changes nothing.
When a mistake has happened, observe how others respond.
Establish the complete history and context of the mistake.
Give your body a moment to translate your emotions. Place your ‘responsive-self’ in charge, instead of your ‘reactive-self.’ Reshape your emotional energy into a positive stream.
Remember just because you are upset, your followers will not feel the real impact of the situation.
Anger neglects to consider there are other forms of motivation and correction, which may even be more effective.
Don’t allow you anger to distort a moment of growth and wisdom.