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  • Writer's pictureShandy Welch

How to Manage Anger Outbursts

​“Every Choice is a Chance”- Ted Lasso

I am not holding back on this one… get ready, this may sound harsh.

Most recently I have found myself in conversations with clients about “poor behavior in the workplace.” Either they are the culprit or at the effect of someone’s outrage. Let me ask you this… on what planet is yelling, belittling, and humiliating another person in public or private appropriate?” I am saddened and surprised that this behavior is not only happening but it is coming from the top level of leadership.

What are the origins and how has this been allowed to continue?

There are a few things at play (in no particular order).

  • Lack of awareness: While I find this hard to believe I do think it is true. How people experience themselves is not the way others experience them This idea is true for most things. The people who have inappropriate behavior are not “bad” people, they have great qualities and are passionate and caring about their profession and organization. It is these positive qualities that have sustained them but the gig is about up. There is only so far you can go without humility, civility, and introspection as to how you impact others.

  • Hierarchy: The downside of “moving up” in the organization is that very few people will tell you the honest truth. You are intimidating by virtue of your title and position. Unless you have given permission for honesty and created trusted partnerships, you will become isolated and your success will plateau.

  • It gets you what you want. Yes, your behavior is a bit over the top but it has led to success and has gotten you where you are. If you let your foot off the gas you will lose respect and control. (does this sound familiar?) Basically, you are prioritizing short-term gain and your comfort over long-term success and the respect of others- did I get that right?

  • Fear: My guess is you are not clueless as to your behavior and the effect on others but you don’t feel you have the skills, resources, or ability to change. I will disagree because first I believe in you and secondly, I have seen the change happen. Beneath most dysfunction is FEAR. You are not unique and many others struggle with the same perception.

You and your team deserve better.

  • Are you ready to look in the mirror or develop skills to address the dysfunction? Here are some first steps.

Acknowledgement: Own and acknowledge the problem. Decide who you want to be and commit to being part of the solution and not the problem. By the way, being a quiet bystander is considered “tacit agreement” and puts you in the “part of the problem” category!

Accountability: Hold yourself and others accountable for behavior and infractions, ideally when they are small. Self-reflection and honesty go a long way. Have the humility to step into the shoes of others and imagine how it must feel to be at the receiving end of your rant. As a participant (willing or not) you must speak the truth and ask for change.

Remember: Leadership is a choice. Once you have assumed the position you have taken on the unwritten rule to lead with intentionality, excellence, integrity, and kindness.

Everything you do and say is being watched and will be repeated by others.

Are you modeling the behavior you are proud of and hope everyone emulates? Are you creating a culture that inspires excellence? Conversely, if you are allowing this behavior to continue, what message are you sending to your team? Trust will rapidly erode and recovery is near impossible.

Humility: Success is a figment of our imagination, what success is to one person is just a stepping stone to another. You are in a race of one. Prioritizing others and recognizing that your success is dependent upon the success of your team. Being “right” may not be the correct goal, allowing others to rise alongside you may take time but will prove more powerful in the end.

My Challenge to You:

  • Take a step towards aligning who you want to be and how you are showing up.

  • Take time to reflect upon how your behavior is serving you and the ones around you.

  • If your behavior is repeated by others would your team be stronger for it?

  • Find a trusted partner to give you feedback on your behavior and work with them to develop strategies for change.

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