Managing Anger at Work as a Leader
GCG Leadership Development Team

Anger in all its forms, is an inherent part of the human experience, impacting everyone at various points in their lives. It is an emotional response that can arise from stress, frustration, or feelings of betrayal. For leaders, how they manage their own anger and respond to the anger of others is crucial for maintaining a productive and collaborative work environment.

Understanding Anger in the Workplace

Anger is a complex emotion that can range from fleeting irritation to persistent rage. It can be triggered by a variety of factors, including personal grievances, excessive workloads, and toxic work environments. Recognizing that anger is a natural and sometimes healthy response is the first step in managing it effectively. For leaders, it is essential to understand the cause of anger and the ways it can manifest in the workplace.

The Impact of Anger at Work

When anger is not managed properly, it can have detrimental effects on both individuals and the organization as a whole. According to a survey by MyPerfectResume, 88% of workers report experiencing burnout, with 87% admitting to having emotional outbursts at work. Such expressions of anger can contribute to a toxic work environment, increase stress levels, and negatively impact mental health and productivity.

Common Triggers of Workplace Anger

Several common factors can lead to anger in the workplace:

  • Toxic Work Environment: Poor leadership, lack of trust, cynical or personal comments, and negative workplace culture can create an atmosphere that fosters anger.
  • Excessive Workloads: Unrealistic deadlines and a lack of work-life balance can increase stress and lead to frustration and anger.

Strategies for Managing Anger

Managing anger involves recognizing its triggers, developing coping mechanisms, and employing strategies to deal with it constructively. Here are five effective ways to manage anger in the workplace:

  1. Identify Triggers: Understand what provokes your anger by keeping a journal of situations that elicit strong emotional responses. This can help you anticipate and prepare for potential triggers.
  2. Develop Coping Mechanisms: Utilize techniques such as deep breathing exercises, mindfulness, or taking a timeout to diffuse anger. Box breathing, which involves breathing in, holding the breath, exhaling, and holding again, can help return your breathing pattern to a relaxed state.
  3. Reframe Your Thoughts: Challenge negative beliefs and replace them with positive self-talk. For instance, remind yourself that it’s okay to make mistakes and that you can remain calm in stressful situations.
  4. Practice Problem-Solving: Instead of focusing on your anger, look for solutions to the issues causing it. Establish healthy boundaries and communicate your needs calmly and assertively.
  5. Invest in Self-Care: Engage in activities that reduce stress, such as exercise, yoga, or hobbies. Build a support system of friends and family, and consider seeking professional help if needed.

Leadership and Emotional Management

Effective leaders understand the importance of managing emotions, both their own and those of their team members. They use empathy to connect with others, soothe their grief, and calm their worries. Leaders like Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan were known for their ability to express empathy and connect with people on an emotional level. As Maya Angelou famously said, “people will never forget how you made them feel.”

To be a competent leader, one must learn to channel anger and other emotions towards a positive and shared purpose. Anger, when managed properly, can be transformed into a motivating force for change. As Viktor Frankl described in “Man’s Search For Meaning,” even the most intense emotions can be directed towards a noble purpose.

Where Leadership Coaching Can Help 

Leadership coaching can play a significant role in helping leaders manage their emotions and respond effectively to the anger of others. By developing emotional intelligence and learning practical strategies for managing anger, leaders can create a more positive and productive work environment. Coaching provides the tools and support needed to turn anger into a catalyst for growth and improvement, fostering a culture of empathy, resilience, and shared purpose.

Global Coach Group (GCG) offers tailored leadership coaching to assist leaders in addressing anger, frustration, and negative emotions in the workplace. For leaders who want to become coaches or coaches looking to enhance their leadership coaching skills, Global Coach Group (GCG) provides a comprehensive leadership coaching certification program. GCG’s internationally acclaimed coaching tools and resources can help you improve your coaching proficiency and empower you to guide others.

GCG Leadership Development Team

Dedicated to bringing you the best leadership development resources.

Learn about the GCG's Coaching Tools

Measurable results, in LESS Time.

Reduce your session prep and follow-ups to just 15 minutes, while delivering coaching that improves leadership, team and business performances with 95% coworker satisfaction

Contact us