Can CEOs Afford to Be Angry?

Like most everyone I have had my share of dealing with anger, my own and other people’s.  Following is some advice on the matter for CEOs, courtesy of Deborah Sweeny – CEO,

There is a well-known, and often used, caricature of the ‘angry boss’ — a typically short, balding man, red in the face, screaming at some unnamed intern or employee over something trivial like a foamy latte from Starbucks. Dealing with overly emotional and irrational people is difficult enough without the added element of power that executives and managers wield, and there are plenty of articles available with advice on dealing with these maniacal workplace tyrants. But there are only a few aimed at the tyrants themselves, which is a shame because as a CEO myself, I know how high the cost of anger is. A bad temper can give a new business a bad reputation, scaring away prospective partners and employees. Unnecessary anger could even lower the amount of money you’re able to make as it destroys employee morale and productivity, and when you become a CEO, or when you start a business, the last thing you want is to lose money. If you feel like you’re about to blow your top, take a moment to stop, breathe, and keep these three things in mind.

A mad (or sad) employee is a bad employee

This concept shouldn’t be too hard to understand. If you treat your employees well, they will work harder, and better. If you don’t, then your employees are going to resent you and they’ll either do the bare minimum or break down from stress. As the study linked above proved, employee engagement, and the quality of their work, increases when they are treated with dignity and respect. Screaming at every employee that makes a mistake kills morale, and as the leaders within a business we have to behave with a certain amount of decorum. I’ve had employees trip up and leave me seeing red, but losing my temper and snapping at them is unprofessional and sets a bad example for the rest of the office. By all means, terminate employees that continue to be a problem despite being warned about their behavior, but don’t obliterate office morale in the process.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

As any entrepreneur will tell you, there will be a lot of unexpected problems when you first start up. Problems that leave you wanting to scream and vent and release the pent up frustration and rage that inevitably accumulates when opening a business. Trust me — these issues are minuscule compared to the ones just over the horizon. You have to learn not to get tripped up by every roadblock; otherwise you’ll be a hot mess 24/7. Take a deep breath and simmer down. It’s difficult to find a solution to a problem when you’re a raging ball of fury. The longer you take to solve the issue, the more the issue impacts your business, so accept that there will always be problems, and that it is your job to solve them.

There is a time for anger

I am not going to sit here and tell you that you should never, ever get mad. Righteous fury is, on occasion, the best way to solve a particularly difficult problem, like when a supplier tries to pull a fast one on you, or when a contracted firm makes lofty promises and then absolutely fails to deliver. You cannot be a doormat and run a successful business. But you need to be able to restrain and channel that anger so that it leads to a constructive solution. Time is money, as the old idiom goes, and you’re wasting time if all you are doing is yelling. Raise your voice, if the situation permits, as a means to assert yourself, and if it will help clean up whatever mess you are dealing with, just do so with restraint and tact. And, while there will be times for anger, know that they will be few and far between.

CEOs are human — we get angry. But we also need to remember that we hold a position of authority within our company, and we cannot abuse that authority as a way to vent frustration. Being that stereotypical ‘angry boss’ will cost you money and ensure that your employees quickly lose any respect they had for you. No matter how big or small the issue at hand may be, stay as professional as possible. Treat your employees well, think before you respond back to emails, relax when faced with smaller problems, and only tap into that anger as a last resort.

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