Anger is intoxicating. There’s no doubt about it. It’s powerful, and has the illusion of strength. People will often respond to us more quickly if we’re angry.
Anger can be a force to be reckoned with. The military recognizes this, teaching people to harness their anger as vehicles for mobilization during difficult moments.
“Don’t get sad, get mad”
The problem is, power gleaned through anger is power taken, not power earned.
Is it possible, I wonder, to have power without exerting our will over others?
Maybe what we are really talking about is leadership.
Certainly, there are many different styles of leadership. We are all familiar with dictatorships, where those in power exert their control over others. Failure to conform is associated with profound negative consequences. We are fearful of their anger. Think Stalin.
Charismatic leaders, on the other hand, rely on the leader’s charm and attraction to inspire devotion among followers. After meeting with Charismatic leaders, we are inspired to be of service. We leave feeling they are special. Televangelist Billy Graham is a famous example of this style of leadership.
Transformation leaders, on the other hand, inspire greatness. They instill valuable and positive change with a vision of developing followers into leaders. After meeting with these leaders, we feel special: confident and inspired to be more. Nelson Mandela is an example of such a leader.
I think we have all had times when we realized our anger had power. It’s a hard habit to break, particularly if we don’t feel safe.
Is this a time when transformational leadership might be an option for you? Maybe you are already practicing it. What does it look like in your life?
Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Founder, Landing Strong