There’s anger in the world, and there is plenty to be angry about; however, this is not a new phenomenon. Ask five random people why they’re angry, and odds are four will provide a litany of everything that’s wrong with the world. Of those four, two will agree, and two will think the other two are to blame. Be the fifth person. Remain reasonable. It’s okay, even necessary, to get ticked off from time to time. Anger isn’t bad. It’s a clue that something is assaulting our core beliefs and values. If we don’t respond to the feeling of anger, we run the risk of letting our beliefs and values atrophy.
When we’re angry, we have trigger reactions fueled by instinct. That’s good; it’s a survival mechanism, a quick means to check our internal compass. However, it is not meant to be our primary modus operandi. Perpetually angry people *cough* Twitter *cough* become boring and boring people ultimately are ignored. At some point, if you’re a leader who wants to affect change, you’ll need to shift from a reactive stance to a position of “respond-ability.”
Have you ever passively witnessed two people quarreling? When we’re not directly involved in the dispute, it’s often amusing to watch and listen to the irrational arguments and assertions they make and vast leaps of logic they take. It’s clear they’re not listening to each other; they only want to be “righter” than their opponent.
Contrast that exchange to an angry customer pitted against a well-trained customer service professional. The professional may mirror the irate customer, but they also empathize. They’re not using their amygdala as a crutch to merely react and counter-react. They respond by being thoughtful and creating a setting where cooler heads can arrive at a mutually satisfying solution.
Anger can also be motivating, but at some point, you need to act responsibly and lower your irrational, venomous rhetoric so you can get to work on fixing what’s making you angry in the first place. Leaders know this usually involves making peace with their opponents.
If you stay in a state of outrage, the adrenaline rush may become inexplicably fun for you, but you’ll quickly degenerate into a whiner, and no one likes a whiner. Whiners make lousy leaders. That’s the fundamental problem with the current climate. We have a bunch of angry whiners who love to make noise and get attention because they mistakenly equate that with leadership. It’s not; it is gimmickry. People can’t resist a freak show, they’ll even spend money on it, but they eventually move on.
Leaders do things. Sometimes they make noise, sometimes they make mistakes, but they always do things. If you’re part of the angry mass, upset about something within your control, grab a mop and start cleaning up the mess instead of being angry about the size of the mop, the floor, or the cleaning solution. Offer alternatives and lead people, or shut up and get over yourself; you’re boring the rest of us.
Boston-bred and California-chilled Karl Bimshas is a leadership consultant, author, and podcast host who collaborates with underestimated professionals who want to become confident, competent leaders in their field without becoming a jerk.
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