Some years ago we saw an example of bad behavior from a college basketball coach. The coach shoved one of his players when there was a time out and the players were coming off the court. He yelled at the player, saying “Do you want to play this game?”

by jLasWilson via Pixabay

It wasn’t a hard shove, but it was a shove, and you could immediately see two reactions. One, the coach seemed to be surprised that he did it. Two, the player started to lose control, and had to be held back by some of the other players initially, then calmed down by other players away from the bench while the game was still going on.

Eventually the player calmed down, and when he got back the coach immediately put him back into the game. The player went on a tear, his team overcame a 15-point deficit and won the game, and all was… no, all wasn’t right with the world.

The same type of thing still occurs in college sports. The head football coach at Maryland is on suspension. The former head basketball coach at Iowa State resigned before he was fired (for the second time… for the same behavior). Another head basketball coach not only yelled at his player, but said “I’ll ship you back to Africa…” in front of all the other players.

Like most other people who get angry, college coaches seem to have forgotten how to control themselves. They’ve also forgotten that there are cameras everywhere. The first coach I mentioned said it was a loss of emotions in the heat of the game, but he didn’t think it was all that bad. Until he saw the tape, after which he called the student’s parents to apologize, apologized to the player, then issued an apology in the media and got to move on with only a censure… that’s sad.

Being in a position of leadership isn’t always easy. For some, they’d tell you it’s not easy most of the time. Dealing with other personalities can take a lot of control. We all get angry here and there. How we decide to manifest that anger can show both ourselves and others the type of person we are as well as the type of behavior we expect from each other.

I count myself lucky. In the years where I was a full time manager I know it was less than 5 or 6 times that I felt so angry that I might lose all control of my emotions. Only on one occasion did I raise my voice, only slightly, while all of the other times people knew I was angry, but I kept my composure enough so that I didn’t yell and certainly didn’t come close to hitting anyone.

I believe that there are times when leaders have to let someone know they’re angry. There are also times when we just can’t totally hold it in, and will show anger in some fashion. I’ve always lived by the rule that we teach people how to treat us by first showing them the way, and if they miss that rule then you do something else to get your point across. I always believed that if I yelled at anyone, then I didn’t have the right to tell someone else they couldn’t yell. Luckily I don’t use curse words so that’s never been anything I had to control.

There’s a hypocrisy about anger. The hypocrisy is that most people behave the worst towards those to whom they feel they’re superior to. I’ve always noticed that when it comes to men, unless they’re really wealthy, they rarely dare rile someone who might be bigger than them when they get angry because they don’t know if they’ll get hit or not. Both women and men rarely yell at someone whose position is above theirs because they’re worried about getting fired.

This shows people can alter their anger based on circumstances. There are times when it’s going to be more difficult, but overall we all have a filter that we employ when necessary. If we can do it sometimes, then all leaders can do it most of the time, if not always.

They should, for a few reasons. One, once leaders look bad they lose their credibility forever. Two, they could lose their jobs for being abusive. Three, because in today’s world you never know how the other person might react to your behavior. It’s easy for anyone to get a weapon, sabotage computer systems, etc. It happens; just watch the news for a week and you’ll probably hear of at least a couple of incidents somewhere (the phrase “going postal” came from reality, although it’s overblown).

Think about how you manifest your anger. Determine if you need to change how you react towards others. If you do and you do change, it’s my bet that you’ll notice a change in how people work with you, and it’ll probably be for the better.

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