Kendall L. Stewart, M.D.
Why are leaders hesitant to do this?
Every leader learns about leadership from other leaders. Since many leaders don’t manage their anger well, this means we are always producing a new crop of leaders who believe that becoming angry and throwing tantrums is both their right and duty. Since many angry leaders are powerful, successful and lionized for their outbursts, concluding that the leader’s anger is justified is understandable—even if mistaken.
What is the case for doing it anyway?
You now have a choice. You can give your anger free rein as you have observed so many leaders do, or you can decide to manage your anger appropriately. You have seen leaders do this too. The goal is to make a deliberate decision instead of mindlessly adopting the behaviors you have observed. If you have concluded that anger is a leadership flaw and that angry behavior is a leadership failure, you will have to admit that some of your role models managed their anger badly.
How can you do it?
- Observe your fellow leaders. You will notice that they respond to anger differently. Some will slink away from conflict and ignore any angry outbursts. Some will respond to anger with anger. Some will manage anger quietly but firmly. Some will become angry often; others seldom will.
- Make a decision. How do you aspire to manage anger as a leader? Your need to parrot what you were taught may be instinctual, but you can choose to behave differently.
- Learn. When you have decided on your preferred approach, learn from leaders who have mastered that approach and from those who have not. If you decide to manage your anger effectively, you will need to learn both what to do and what not to do.
How have you learned from your role models’ successes and failures?