Average project leaders focus on results, and that’s it. Good project leaders focus also on the behaviors that will get the results. Successful project leaders focus on the emotions/feelings that will drive these behaviors.
One emotion that shapes our behavior is anger. Martin Luther King Jr., whose 84th birthday was last month, knew of the power that came from anger.
Effective project leaders experience anger. It wakes us up and makes us pay attention to what is wrong on our projects, or in ourselves. Without anger, we would not have the awareness or the drive to fix what is wrong with our team mates, the budget, or the schedule.
Let’s be real here. I don’t want you to hide your anger; I want you to channel your wrath into a higher purpose.
Wise project leaders do not ignore their anger, nor do they allow themselves to get consumed by it. Instead, they channel the emotion into positive energy to make changes and drive them to stay on purpose. They use it to change the project game. And they allow team members to display their anger so they, too, can channel the emotion into energy to make changes and drive them to stay on purpose. In the words of M. L. King in Freedomways magazine in 1968, “The supreme task [of a leader] is to organize and unite people so that their anger becomes a transforming force.”
Here are some questions for you to determine your relationship with anger.
• Are there any project situations that you’re ignoring that instead should fire you up? For instance, your project is not delivering products, services, or results on target, on time, or on budget? Maybe you could get in touch with your feelings of anger, frustration, or disappointment and channel them into positive energy?
• How often are you angry and show it? Does anger control you, or do you control it?
• Can you tell when team members are angry, or when they could be angry for the right reasons? How can you help team members channel into positive energy?
In my project leadership class, Leading Teams: Improving Productivity Through Teamwork, we discuss tips, tricks, and techniques project leaders can use to master anger. We teach you how to use deep breathing or take a pause when you feel yourself becoming bitter; or, you can reframe the situation and challenge yourself to see it from a different point of view.
Mahatma Gandhi taught Martin Luther King, Jr .how to deal with anger: “I have learnt through bitter experience the one supreme lesson to conserve my anger, and as heat conserved is transmuted into energy, even so our anger controlled can be transmuted into a power that can move the world.” (Young India journal, September 1920.)
Get angry. Make things happen . . . TODAY!