About the time that I noticed my angry reaction, I came across an article by Hitendra Wadhwa, which helped me put some of my feelings into perspective. It was called The Wrath of A Great Leader, and was written about Martin Luther King.
I’ve extracted some of the key sections below (retaining the American spelling).
“Average leaders focus on results, and that’s it. Good leaders focus also on the behaviors that will get the results. And great leaders focus, in addition, on the emotions that will drive these behaviors.”
“Great leaders often have a strong capacity to experience anger. It wakes them up and makes them pay attention to what is wrong in their environment, or in themselves. Without anger, they would not have the awareness or the drive to fix what is wrong.”
I had allowed myself to become angry and indignant. I had spoken hastily and resentfully. Yet I knew that this was no way to solve a problem. ‘You must not harbor anger,’ I admonished myself. ‘You must be willing to suffer the anger of the opponent, and yet not return anger. You must not become bitter. No matter how emotional your opponents are, you must be calm.
Martin Luther King
Great leaders do not ignore their anger, nor do they allow themselves to get consumed by it. Instead, they channel the emotion into energy, commitment, sacrifice, and purpose. They use it to step up their game. And they infuse people around them with this form of constructive anger so they, too, can be infused with energy commitment, sacrifice and purpose.
I have found Hitendra Wadhwa’s insights very helpful in thinking through this issue, and I’m always keen to learn from great leaders like Martin Luther King. And while I recognise some subsequent changes in how I manage my anger, I guess there are two questions that remain:
Is the change evident to anyone other than me?
Can I sustain – and improve – the way that I manage my anger?