I was in a meeting yesterday in which I heard that a senior leader had suggested that a mid-level leader should have responded with anger to another person’s anger. In other words: both of you being angry will somehow yield a better outcome than one of you being angry. That was lousy advice and it’s a lousy leadership practice.
At the 2010 Willow Creek Leadership Summit, one of the sub-themes was, “I will stop using anger as a leadership tool.” I do not claim I have never used anger as a leadership tool—I’m not that perfect. But I cannot recall a single time when my anger yielded a positive outcome. Why?
Anger supposedly demonstrates who is in control. What it really reveals is who is out of control.
Anger supposedly will promote change in behavior. What it really promotes is pervasive fear that paralyzes the organization.
Anger supposedly shows strength of position. What it really shows is weakness of character.
Anger supposedly reinforces “I’m right.” What it really reinforces is “I’m proud.”
It is interesting that in scripture, God puts anger in the same list of sins as immorality, idolatry, sorcery, and drunkenness:
Galatians 5:19-21 (NASB95) Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing.…
That’s enough said about how God feels about it.
Anger rarely if ever accomplishes anything good. It may accomplish what you intend, but only if your purpose is self-centered and intended to inflict humiliation and pain. Anger always has the effect of damaging relationships—at home, in the church, at your workplace. So take to heart the Summit sub-theme. Resolve today that you will stop using anger as a leadership tool. You’ll be a much better leader.
By the way, don’t kid yourself that “forgive me” will erase the effects of repeated outbursts. “Forgive me” only works if it doesn’t happen again.
Do you have an anger problem? I’ll offer one solution in my next post.
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