How to Make Anger Your Ally

angerWe all get angry…even great leaders…especially great leaders.

Anger is a symptom of passion.  However, just like a fever is a symptom of the flu, the symptom must be put into check or else it can be just as damaging.  So how do we turn anger into a powerful motivator, not just for us, but for our teams as well?

  1. Understand that being angry is not bad.  Don’t be ashamed of it.  If you are angry that something is not going right it just means that you care about the outcome.  If you don’t get angry anymore then you need to change your profession because you have stopped caring.
  2. Don’t make it personal.  You can be angry for a lot of reasons, but don’t make it a personal attack.  This is true at work and at home.  Say, “I am angry because you said you would have the project finished by January and now we are going to slip customer deadlines,” not “I am angry because you are a procrastinator.”  You have just attacked the character of someone, and that lowers morale.
  3. Explain your anger.  If anger just shows up out of nowhere, it can be scary.  Make sure that people understand why you are angry and how it can be fixed and, in the future, avoided.  At least people will get where you are coming from and hopefully they can relate.
  4. Be consistent with anger.  Don’t let something slide and say it is okay when it really grinds your gears.  Tell them about it.  You don’t have to be boiling mad before you show your dislike for a behavior or bad habit.  It may even keep you from popping your top.
  5. Don’t apologize for being angry.  You can apologize for your actions because of your anger, but not for being angry.  “I’m sorry I raised my voice” is completely acceptable, but “I’m sorry I was upset with you for losing that account” is not.  You should be upset and you have every right to be, but you could have acted differently about it.  Understand the difference between emotion and action. 
  6. Build emotional bank accounts all of the time.  I know this analogy is out there and overplayed, but it is a good one.  Making emotional deposits all of time will allow you to slip every now and then and not lose credibility with people.  You stay friends with people even after they get mad at you because they are good people and you just had a spat.  It is the same at the office.

These six pointers are just a start.  Understand that bottling your anger is a poor decision.  Controlling your responses to your anger is where the money is.  Making anger your comrade-in-arms is a process that will take much time, effort and self-patience.  Good luck!

Let me know what you think about anger and how it has affected your professional life.

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