If you’re pissed off at the actions of another, pause before you take action. A deep breath and a few hours will allow you to manage nearly every situation more appropriately.
Some people believe that in order to be a strong leader, expressions of authentic anger are necessary. There is some research to back this up. From fastcompany.com:
In a recent study, participants were assigned to four person teams to work on a complex decision-making task. After a practice session, the team received comments from their leader… All that differed was the emotional tone of the feedback – “angry” leaders frowned a lot, spoke in an irritable tone of voice, clenched their fists, and looked stern, while “happy” leaders looked cheerful, spoke in an upbeat tone of voice, and smiled frequently.
Teams whose members who scored relatively high in agreeableness performed about 10% better with happy leaders than they did with angry ones…However, teams that were low in agreeableness performed about 10% better on the task with an angry leader than they did with a happy one! They took the task more seriously and increased their effort, resulting in superior performance.
Obviously, the ability of anger to be a productive motivator depends heavily on the individuals you’re working with. Even if you believe that it has a purpose in your leadership toolbox, the important thing to note is that this is a controlled, deliberate expression of anger. We’ve been told for years to “let it out,” to vent our anger and frustrations. This is a bad idea. From the Association for Psychological Science:
Research suggests that the catharsis hypothesis is false. For more than 40 years, studies have revealed that encouraging the expression of anger directly toward another person or indirectly (such as toward an object) actually turns up the heat on aggression…Research suggests that expressing anger is helpful only when it’s accompanied by constructive problem-solving designed to address the source of the anger.
Today, I witnessed a friend diffuse a situation with a mutual acquaintance beautifully. The actions of the person were unquestionably unsavory. My friend and I surveyed the situation with a mildly heightened anger level and agreed to take a few hours before addressing our acquaintance. This was rational and effective. He was able to (later in the day) express his displeasure constructively.
No one goes through life without experiencing anger. We feel anger when we notice injustice or unfairness or when someone isn’t acting in the best interests of the group. In fact, anger can be a useful emotion. Anger produces less stress hormones in the body than fear does, and unlike fear, we can harness anger to motivate us to take action.
But the seething rage you feel in the heat of the moment is not conducive for building relationships or promoting change. It’s reasonable to express a lack of contentment with a friend or coworker’s behavior, but with a calculated plan.
Just make sure that you’re not on tilt emotionally when you take that step.