Friday, October 9, 2015

High Performance Leaders Deal With Anger

What do you do when someone in your range of influence is angry?

It can be discomforting. It can be disruptive. Anger is tough to handle under the best of circumstances. And yet, handle it we must.

Centered, high performance leaders are careful about anger. Careful about their own anger and careful about their reactions to the anger of others.

I had a boss once (a very long time ago) who told me that I had a problem with anger. That made me angry. The reaction to anger is sometimes defensiveness, sometimes fear, and sometimes (surprise!) more anger. Whatever our reaction, our bodies are usually poised for action. What we do in that moment of activation is critical to our success.

If our life or emotional well-being is being threatened, that steers our direction. But usually, although it feels that way, we are not actually under any threat.

So we must deal with anger productively. We must say what we want without blaming others for it not being there. We must listen with curiosity to see what is behind the charged emotions. Instead of fencing in whoever appears to be in opposition to us we must collaborate on ways to move the fences back. Liberating that feeling of constraint is useful and bridges the gaps we feel rather than pushing others farther away.

Does it take work? Of course! That's why we're leaders - to show that whatever the problem, whatever the conflict, whatever the strong emotion, there is always a better way.

Unresolved anger doesn't go away on its own.

We might as well deal with it right away.

-- Doug Smith


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