Don’t Let Anger Define Your Leadership

The ease and transparency of communication these days has empowered people to say and do whatever they want, whenever they want, to whomever they want. This can be a difficult thing to deal with if you are the leader of a group or organization.

Years ago I had a person on my team who had no problem blasting opinions and sometimes accusations against teammates and me. Every time this happened I noticed an anger coming over me and the desire to strike back. And why not, I’m the boss, right? Wrong! I mean, yes, I was the boss, but being the leader means holding yourself to a higher standard of communication, especially if you hope to fully engage everyone on your team.

Power, Anger & Disengagement

I have worked for the person who flies off the handle and exhibits angry outbursts. I remember how it made me feel, how I frequently wanted to shut down and back away, or even worse, strike back. I don’t want to be that person. It seems like the more powerful you become in the organization the more tempting it is to exhibit that power in inappropriate ways. So, how can you protect yourself from being drawn into an anger infused interaction with someone in the organization?

1.       You don’t have to say everything you think. It took me longer than it should have to learn this in my marriage, but it applies nicely at work too. Not every comment or action made by someone on your team (home or work) requires a response from you.

2.       Give others the same grace you give yourself. We often judge others by their actions, but we judge ourselves by our intentions. This causes us to give ourselves a break that we don’t offer that same break to others. Instead, give others the room to make and recover from mistakes.

3.       Stop assuming someone’s intent and instead focus on the impact of what they said or did. You can’t know what someone intended, but you can see the outcome or impact of their actions or words. Gauge your response (not reaction) to them based on outcome, not intent.

4.       Focus on what you CAN control, you! You cannot control someone else. You cannot control the circumstances. All you can control is your actions, your reactions, and your responses to others and the circumstances.

Roman emperor and stoic philosopher, Marcus Aurelius reminds us that anger is a choice when he said, “You don’t have to turn this into something. It doesn’t have to upset you.” Drive higher levels of employee engagement by being consistent in how you handle your emotions.