Don't Get Mad, Get Flexible: How to Become a Respected Team Leader

Last Updated Mar 21, 2010 11:23 PM EDT

Some managers believe that there's nothing wrong with letting their anger show. After all, it can motivate employees and discourage them from making the same mistakes twice. (So can positive reinforcement, of course, but we'll save that for another discussion.) However, new research from Melbourne Business School says that if you want your ideas to be taken seriously on a self-managed team of colleagues, then you better learn to control your anger.

According to Melbourne Business School professor Ian Williamson and organizational psychologist Carol Gill, people who practice "psychological flexibility," or have the ability to separate themselves from their emotions, emerge as respected team leaders in co-managed groups. Those who get angry have a harder time getting their ideas approved by the team.

While there's a certain common sense component to this research -- people usually respond more positively to colleagues who aren't yelling at them, after all -- there are additional factors at play determining why those who can detach emotionally emerge as team leaders.

"Individuals with high psychological flexibility have more attention resources to notice how much control they have in any given situation," said Gill in an MBS press release. "Because they engage in less avoidant behavior, through trial and error, they also better learn how they can effectively use this control. This equips them to better influence the team's objectives, task behavior, group maintenance and culture."

How do you act in team situations? Do you think it's OK to let your anger show, or do you practice psychological flexibility? Weigh in below or leave a comment.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Tambako the Jaguar, CC 2.0.

  • Stacy Blackman

    Stacy Sukov Blackman is president of Stacy Blackman Consulting, where she consults on MBA admissions. She earned her MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and her Bachelor of Science from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Stacy serves on the Board of Directors of AIGAC, the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants, and has published a guide to MBA Admissions, The MBA Application Roadmap.