Leadership, whether in business or anything else, is an inherently emotional journey. When you’re in charge of a team, it is nearly impossible to avoid becoming emotionally invested not only in outcomes, but people and processes as well.
This level of personal investment can easily lead to emotionally-charged environments and knee-jerk reactions on behalf of those in charge. However, I’ve learned that the best leaders can rise above the passions of the moment and maintain a level head, even in the tensest of situations. It may sound trite, but good leaders are quick to listen and slow to anger.
Be quick to listen
When you’re leading a team, one thing is certain: you will run into situations outside of your control that will cause you frustration and push you towards anger. It is an inescapable aspect of running a business—clients, employees, partners, and your product or service itself can create challenging situations that require an elephant’s share of patience. While it can be easy to fly off the handle, I’ve learned that simply listening to perspectives and reasoning can help defuse even the most frustrating of situations.
Early on at BodeTree, I was notorious for getting frustrated with my software developers. We would outline a task that needed to be completed, agree upon a time-line, and get to work. However, without fail, the agreed upon timeline would come and pass, and we would have little to nothing to show for it.
My initial reaction would be to get angry and lash out at people for their apparent lack of progress. It was only when I began to slow down and listen to my team’s concerns that things began to change.
As it turns out, the features I was asking for weren’t as simple and straightforward as I thought. Much of what I was looking to accomplish was dependent on older code that needed to be updated before we could move forward.
My team, however, didn’t always know that this was the case until they were neck-deep in the project, so things tended to slow down and deadlines slipped. Once I understood this, I was able to work with them to set better internal expectations and manage projects more effectively. Had I refused to listen and instead chose the path of brute force, I would never have been able to help the team move ahead.
Be slow to anger
More often than not, leaders mistake anger for power and fear for respect. The truth is that angry bosses are rarely effective. Having a good yell may feel cathartic at the moment, but it creates a toxic environment and erodes your standing among the team.
It’s important for leaders to be patient and rise above the fleeting passions of the moment. I’ve found that there are really only two paths that are appropriate when faced with frustrating circumstances.
The first choice is to simply let the anger pass. I’d rather be successful and guide people to a positive outcome than “be right” in any given situation. Sometimes, that means recognizing the fact that someone is angering you, but having the maturity to let it slide.
The second choice is to be truly slow to anger. This process requires you to be firm, clear, and concise with your expectations. If people continue to behave poorly, overwhelm them with documentation and remind them of prior conversations. If nothing improves, the situation can move on towards a more permanent resolution. The key here is to be firm without ever flying off the handle.
With that being said, leaders should be allowed to get angry from time to time. In fact, if you find yourself in a conflict-free environment all the time, you can be sure that something is amiss.
Whatever you do, don’t be passive-aggressive
Nothing is perfect, and leaders who don’t voice their thoughts end up doing a great disservice to themselves as well as the team as a whole. These passive-aggressive managers are almost worse than people with hair-trigger tempers because they’re as inauthentic as they are cowardly.
Everyone makes mistakes, and good leaders recognize the need for compassion. More often than not, the mere act of listening solves the issue at hand. If it doesn’t, a firm yet but fair approach is warranted. It’s ok for leaders to get angry and downright healthy for them to confront problems as they encounter them. However, remember that good leaders never fly off the handle, no matter what.
This article was written by Chris Myers from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.