How the Best Leaders Manage Anger

Great-Leaders-Manage-AngerAnger isn’t all bad. Consider how it compels us to take action, and has allowed the human species to survive. But anger isn’t always helpful, or healthy. The best leaders know how to manage anger.

When I talk about this with my coaching clients, we discuss the importance of recognizing the process—what is happening, as it happens. For example, when fear is triggered, recognize the effect it has in your body: “There is adrenaline.” “There is fear.” “There is dry mouth.” “There is anger.” Identify the feeling, as it occurs, without making it personal.

Consider past situations when you became angry. Can you make a connection between the prompt and your response? Do you see any patterns?

As you pinpoint the types of issues that trigger anger, stop and assess the effects they have on you. Anger that isn’t resolved can cause resentment, anxiety, bitterness, depression, stress, fatigue, health issues or a general coldness to people. All of these are detrimental to your productivity and leadership. Better choices are possible when the causes and effects of feelings are understood.

Your relationships are damaged by the way anger changes you. It also has a negative effect on others. People try to avoid angry coworkers, which strains communication and collaboration. Work is challenging enough without tension between people. Employees wondering when the next outburst will come from their leader will take no risks, make no extra efforts or be willing to make decisions. They will play it safe and avoid any wrath they can.

A leader prone to anger will find their reputation and security threatening. With a staff leery of their leader’s mood, the productivity of the team suffers. People are not engaged with their work. Some of them will look for other jobs, creating a turnover problem. When an anger-prone leader drives people away, everyone notices, including higher executives.

Thoughtful reflection is helpful in recognizing any of these trends. Comparing your responses today to those of the past may shed light on the transformation. Be honest with yourself. The first step to improve is to see the need. Get feedback from a trusted colleague or family member. If you have issues with anger, it is noticed. Be an accepting listener, and you’ll create a safe space for the conversation to occur.

What do you think? I’d love to hear how you manage anger.  You can call me at 704-827-4474; let’s talk. And as always, I can be reached here or on LinkedIn.

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