Anger management

21 Jul 2003|Christoper Ireland

In one of my first jobs out of school, I had a manager who believed instilling fear was the best way to get top performance from people. He rarely listened to anyone, but rather immediately threw his weight around and intimidated everyone in the room. By the time he was done, anyone who may have considered arguing with his point of view had already given up. I imagine he felt this was the best approach for getting compliance and keeping things running smoothly and efficiently. I was young enough and naive enough to think he was a buffoon.

Over the years, I’ve learned that many people think anger and the fear it invokes is the best approach to management. It’s an incredibly blunt tool that creates more damage than necessary, but it’s pervasive and pretending it doesn’t exist or isn’t effective is like wishing away violence. While I still think it’s a ridiculous approach to management, I’ve learned to turn off the emotional hot-buttons that anger can push. I’ve learned to look at fear like the opening of a cave–with caution, but also enough curiosity to move towards it and get a better view. I can’t say I’m immune to anger, but it doesn’t work well in my presence. And that’s the best contribution I can make to eradicating a management practice that probably should have died with the dinosaurs.

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