I find myself angry. A lot. Four things to keep in mind if you are like me.
I find myself angry a lot. Not a boiling-over, in-your-face profanity-laced outburst type of anger. It is more of a low-grade fever: plans aren’t going the way they are supposed to go; things break, franchise budgets are missed, plans go awry, team members do mindless things, etc. etc. etc.
Leader, what do you do with your anger?
One of my favorite leadership books is Leadership Prayers by Richard Kriegbaum. The president of Fresno Pacific University, Kriegbaum has written a book that I find myself coming back to regularly.
He had this to say about leadership anger: “Passion is essential to great leadership, and anger is the ready passion of those who care intensely and expect much from themselves and others. Most leaders experience a great deal of anger, their own and others. But releasing uncontrolled anger inevitably turns a person into a fool.”
So, leader – it is okay to be angry. In fact, it is more than okay. If you don’t get angry, I suspect you don’t care. And not caring is never an option for a leader.
However, anger unchecked can be toxic for you, your team and your family. Here are four leadership best practices to keep anger in its rightful place:
First of all, recognize that anger is okay. Show me someone who isn’t angry when things aren’t right, and I’ll show you a poor leader. You and I don’t need to feel guilty about our anger; we just need to find a way to express our anger appropriately. Which leads us to our second point:
Find a way to vent. Anger is like a boiling pot, and, un-released, it will find a way to boil over. Some ways to vent: express yourself to a close colleague or mentor, share with a trusted friend – I find that good conversations with my wife about issues at work help me “let air out.” Exercise is also a good venting process, or even simply changing venues – go for a walk, pick up a good book, listen to some music. The key here is not to ignore the anger; buried anger rears it’s ugly head someplace else. And remember:
Keep things in perspective. Most of our leadership frustrations are over things that may not be the end of the universe. If it isn’t that big a deal, why are you making it so?
Last of all remember to celebrate successes. Right now, I’m frustrated with one of our franchises. We are off budget, we are having higher-than-expected staff turnover, and our customer satisfaction numbers aren’t where we want them to be. Lots to be angry about, right? But then I remember: while we are off on our top-line budget, we’ve done an excellent job of managing expenditures, and are still right where we need to be on our bottom-line. We’ve replaced many of the team members who probably needed to go, and our disgruntled customers are less than 3% of our overall customer base. Furthermore, a couple of our other businesses are ahead in some of these key performance indicators. As a result, our enterprise-wide numbers are where we want them to be. I need to remember all the good in the midst of the frustrations.
Anger is good, leader. You just have to remember who’s in charge: you, not your anger. What other best practices do you suggest to keep your anger in check?