In my role as an organizational coach, from time to time I am asked to work with leaders who struggle to manage anger and emotional outbursts. Amazingly, they often don’t realize that going on an angry tirade during a staff meeting or berating a direct report in front of colleagues is conduct unbecoming of a leader. In fact, uncontrolled anger often can be a career staller—and it definitely derails leadership presence. It also can take a toll on personal health and relationships both in and out of the workplace.
Coaching these types of individuals is challenging because they are labeled “problem children” and can create a toxic environment. However, the work can be rewarding when the leader is open to being coached and receiving honest feedback and is willing to change by increasing their self-awareness.
I always ask two questions of a client who struggles with managing self:
• How do you want to be perceived as a leader in your organization?
• How do you think others perceive you as a leader?
Once the client answers these questions, we begin to create clarity about anger triggers or hot buttons. We discuss the importance of recognizing physical changes that happen within the body when rage begins to rumble. These might include the face becoming red, heart rate increasing, blood pressure increasing, palms becoming sweaty, or seeing stars. It is critical for the client to recognize their personal signs so that they can begin to implement self-management techniques.
Do you find yourself fuming when a work conversation goes bad or when your boss or a colleague dismisses your efforts in a meeting? Do anger issues lurk in other areas of your life? Here are 7 tips for keeping your temper in check:
- Identify your personal anger triggers or hot buttons. Recognize the physical changes happening as your anger builds.
- Rehearse mental procedures and ask/say to yourself:
• What is the source of my anger?
• Do I need to do something about what is angering me?
• I will remain calm and breathe deeply to allow oxygen flow to help me think clearly.
• I will not take this situation personally.
• I will slow down my thoughts and gain self-control.
- Take a personal time out. Walk away for an hour, gain control, and cool off.
- Implement relaxation skills. Examples include deep breathing; imagining a special vacation place and concentrating on its beauty; repeating a calming word that you choose; listening to music; writing your thoughts in a journal.
- Get some exercise. Physical activity is a powerful outlet.
- Examine solutions regarding what caused your anger.
- Accept responsibility for managing yourself by responding to anger in a healthy way.
These are all simple steps that require self-discipline and courage. Daniel Goleman, author of the book Emotional Intelligence, says this: “Reasonable people—the ones who maintain control over their emotions—are people who can sustain safe, fair environments. In these settings, drama is very low and productivity is very high. Top performers flock to these organizations and are not apt to leave them.”
Use these 7 steps to keep your emotions in control and model how to create a safe, encouraging, and productive environment for everyone you lead.
About the Author
Patricia Sauer is a coaching solutions partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies Coaching Services team. Since 2000, Blanchard’s 150 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world.
Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services.