The Ancients knew a thing or two about anger:
“Whom the Gods want to destroy, they first make angry.” Ancient Greek Proverb
“Great anger is more destructive than the sword.” Indian Proverb
“The angry man will defeat himself in battle as well as in life.” Japanese Samurai Proverb
“The key to leadership is self-control… including the mastery of anger, which is more difficult to defeat than the greatest wrestler.” Genghis Khan
“There’s nothing manly about rage. It’s courtesy and kindness that define a human being – and a man. That’s who possesses strength and nerves and guts, not the angry whiners.” Marcus Aurelius (Roman Emperor)
Let’s take the hint and keep anger out of our managerial kit bag.
Angry at Ourselves
The old adage about anger usually applies. When we are truly angry, we are angry at ourselves. As a leader, we may feel that our anger is justified – someone did not get their work done on time (@^%$#*&). But, in most cases, the useful answer is to be angry with ourselves.
- Did we communicate the assignment and the due date clearly?
- Did we follow up consistently to ensure that everything was proceeding on time?
Our anger will inevitably be interpreted by our people as being unfair. Where we may see just cause for anger, our employees see that we are angry at ourselves for not communicating clearly or following up well. And our people will feel, often quite correctly, that we are taking this anger out on them.
When we begin to get angry, we need to force ourselves to take a “cooling-off” period. A day or even a couple of hours will assuage a lot of our anger and allow us to be clear-headed in finding a resolution to what made us so furious. Using anger or the leadership style of “the beatings will stop once morale improves” all but assures that morale will not improve.
“Don’t do things in anger: ‘You can always tell a man to go to hell tomorrow.’” Warren Buffett
There is good reason why anger is one of the seven deadly sins. Anger is a strong emotion, and, as an emotion, it is nearly impossible to control. Letting anger run its course damages reputations, relationships, and company morale, often permanently.
In short, as good leaders, we can never get angry.