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Get Angry And Then Get Results

By Brent Filson

Leadership is not about winning a popularity contest, it's about getting great results. To do so, leaders must challenge people not to do what they want to do but what they don't want to do.

This means getting people out of being comfortable achieving average results to being uncomfortable doing what's needed to get great results. Of course, people so challenged will often get angry with you.

Provoking people's anger comes with the territory of being a challenging leader. In fact, if you are not getting a portion of the people you lead angry with you, you may not be challenging them enough.

This does not mean you let their anger fester. You absolutely must deal with it. After all, you can't motivate angry, resentful people to be your cause leaders.

But there is another angry person you have to deal with. If you don't deal with that person, you won't be able to get the results you're capable of. That person is you.

For just as people get angry in a challenging leadership situation, so do you. It's only natural. You may get angry at their not understanding the challenge, or their not taking the action you want, or their not listening to you, or their not being totally committed to doing what you think is important, or their disobeying you, or their trying to undermine your leader, or any number of things.

Just as you must recognize that in the give-and-take of leadership encounters, you'll occasionally get angry, you should also recognize that such anger is your great opportunity. An opportunity for you to achieve great results.

To understand this, I want you to remember David Coffin and Aristotle.

When writing my book, Executive Speeches: 51 CEOs Tell You How To Do Yours, I interviewed C.E.O. David Coffin who said, "I'm patient, reasonable, even tempered. But once my patience runs out, I give my best talks..... Something has to be done. You want to get it done!"

I counsel leaders that great results happen in the realm of the free choice of the people you lead and that to give people choices, leaders should be "patient, reasonable, even tempered." They should also be great listeners and adapt at asking good questions

... most of the time.

Occasionally, however, leaders must let their patience run out. They must get angry and show people they're angry... because something has to be done and they want it done!

However, just getting angry and communicating that anger is not enough to seize the opportunity that anger can provide. That's where Aristotle comes in.

Aristotle wrote in Nicomachean Ethics: "Anyone can be angry. That is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, in the right way -- that is not easy."

If you get angry, think of David Coffin and Aristotle. Be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, in the right way -- and you'll find you're getting increases in results.

2005 © The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

PERMISSION TO REPUBLISH: This article may be republished in newsletters and on web sites provided attribution is provided to the author, and it appears with the included copyright, resource box and live web site link. Email notice of intent to publish is appreciated but not required: mail to:

About The Author

The author of 23 books, Brent Filson's recent books are, THE LEADERSHIP TALK: THE GREATEST LEADERSHIP TOOL and 101 WAYS TO GIVE GREAT LEADERSHIP TALKS. He is founder and president of The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. - and for more than 20 years has been helping leaders of top companies worldwide get audacious results. Sign up for his free leadership e-zine and get a free white paper: "49 Ways To Turn Action Into Results," at


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