Managers need to manage their stress and anger

 What does it take to make you boil over? A colleague recently lamented his recent melt down, "A long-time employee walked into my office that morning and told me he was quitting and the first draft of my budget was due to my boss the next day. When the computer network crashed, I just blew a fuse. I was kicking file cabinets, slamming doors and screaming." 

We all have our breaking points but some people shoot their careers in the foot when their temper becomes a bigger liability than their talent is worth.

  • The sulker. They pout, refuse to speak and lock themselves in their office. Everyone wastes time and energy tiptoeing around them until they snap out of it. They expect colleagues to pamper their wounded egos and coax them back into a cheerful mood. The problem is that employees get tired of this game and end up viewing the boss as a little kid who doesn't deserve their respect.
  • The bully. You don’t want to cross this guy. He will embarrass you in public and then accuse you of having thin skin. If you tick him/her off, he/she will punish you with a nasty project or a poor review. These intimidation tactics work on some people but not for long. This boss won’t keep good employees.
  • The victim. "How could my employees be so ungrateful after everything I’ve done for them? After all, I bought them all turkeys for Christmas, let them off early when they ask…" This manager expects blind loyalty and contentment because of the "sacrifices" he or she makes for them. The problem is that they attempt to manipulate with motherly guilt and it usually backfires.
  • The screamer. As the curses fly and doors slam, employees scurry to their cubies and duck out of site. Once the dust settles, the screamer feels oh, so much better but unfortunately, everyone else feels worse. These stress carriers pass their stress on to others in ways they would never tolerate from their employees. "Oh, I just lose my cool," they explain. "It’s no big deal." The problem is that it is a big deal and it has a nasty physiological and psychological affect on everyone around them.
  • The sarcastic stabber. As the tension mounts, the barbs get nastier. Stomachs twist and everyone wants to slink under the desk when the sarcasm starts flying. These insults can be faster than a speeding bullet and just as deadly. The problem is that no one wants to make a mistake that will put him or her in the line of fire. So, rather than improve mistakes, people get so nervous they tend to make more of them…or hide them from view and hope for the best.
  • The smasher. When this guy gets mad you’d better duck. Papers fly, waste baskets are kicked across the room and fists are slammed on the table. Not only is this scary behavior, it’s counterproductive. No one can think straight for hours and, rational or not, people will fear that this temper could be turned on them. No one will remember what he was angry about, but they surely will remember the vivid visual display for months to come.
  • The blamer. They think the only solution to a problem is to hunt down the guilty party and make sure they never do it again. The problem is that blame is a misguided notion. People don’t get up in the morning and say, "Gee, I think I’ll make a doosie of a mistake today." Mistakes are usually caused by lack of information coupled with good intentions.
    Blame drives away innovation and causes people to keep their heads low and their mouths shut.
  • The guilt weaver. "Never mind. I’ll take care of it. Don’t bother…" they say through tight lips. Rather than allow an employee to fix their own mistake, this manager stabs and twists the knife of guilt as he or she goes off to do the job, "because obviously no one else is able or willing to do what it takes." Oh, give it up. 
So, what is the best way to handle anger? I call it the duck paddle. Even when you’re paddling like hell underneath, you need to stay unruffled on the surface. It’s what a mature, responsible manager is paid to do. Focus on the problem and direct your energy toward a solution. Take out your anger at the gym, not on those around you.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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