Leading through angry days

These are angry times. It’s easy to get angry, and stay angry. Everyone’s fuse seems shorter, and quite often it feels as if things “just aren’t fun anymore.” We’re polarized – people are either this OR that, but rarely anything in between with little to no tolerance for other opinions.

When it seems there’s no hope…

Anger is everywhere, and feeding it is easy. Reading the news can illicit an emotional response with even the mildest story about what another camp thinks – or if you’re feeling particularly masochistic, watch the other side’s reporting for a good dose of adrenaline-fuelled indignation. Social media – once the bastion of cuddly cat videos and food-porn is now the fastest path to a deluge of negative news stories – carefully curated just for you – and paired with a veritable cornucopia of half-baked commentary. 

This anger and negativity doesn’t just end when we close a browser window, turn off the TV or put down our smartphone. It permeates our persona – travelling with us wherever we go, shortening our fuses and polarizing our opinions – seeping into our interactions with friends, family and coworkers.

There’s hope.

We can’t control what others read or watch. But leaders can – and should – define and shape the work environment. After all, we spend more hours each day at work than we do at home with family. Leaders have the ability to exert a positive influence on those we work with, and make the workplace an environment where anger and the often associated lack of tact and respect should not be welcome.

Choose what’s important.

Focus on the good stuff – pull positive thoughts out of challenges. Recognize the great things that happen everyday – and lead from a positive place.

There are two ways of saying almost anything – coach for success rather than punish failure. Celebrate the good stuff more than correcting exceptions. Choose the path that builds people up. Curate a positive environment. 

Stay Strong.

Be clear and vigilant about what’s not acceptable. The lack of decorum and absence of empathy that’s increasingly prevalent in today’s political discussions can’t become acceptable in a positive work environment. Silence is acceptance. Insist on respect – and fuel it with well-chosen words and empathy. 

There are opportunities to lead in all areas of life. It’s easy to feel as if the leaders we read about everyday have the most power – but that’s not necessarily true. The leaders we experience at work everyday are often the leaders we’re closest to. And, they carry much more influence than they think. Channeling your influence into positivity creates an opportunity to make a real and constructive impact on people’s lives, everyday.

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