Leaders must learn to turn aggression to positive ends
BY DR. KOMOROFF Universal Uclick
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
1/30/13 at 2:28 AM
Dear Doctor K: I'm the executive assistant to a CEO. By most measures, he's doing a very good job for the company, but people don't like him. He's aggressive, but he comes across as angry. I think he'll listen to advice from me. How can he channel his aggression more constructively?
Dear Reader: I'm no expert, but I've seen many leaders in the medical arena. And you're right: An aggressive personality has both advantages and disadvantages in a leader. In my opinion, what matters most is which part of a person's brain is driving his or her aggressiveness: the rational part or the emotional part. What distinguishes the human brain from the brains of other animals is the size of the rational part. In contrast, the part of our brain that experiences emotion - the primitive part - has been with animals since the reptiles.
The challenge is to use aggression for creative, helpful purposes without inflicting pain or harm. Hopefully, you can help your boss recognize his aggression and funnel it into constructive directions.
My Harvard Medical School colleague Dr. Ken Settel, with Joseph Cardillo, has written a short, instructive e-book about the characteristics of successful leaders. It's called "CEO Psychology: Who Rises, Who Falls, and Why." You can learn more about it at my website, tulsaworld.com/DrK
Dr. Settel recommends the following exercises to help a person pay careful attention to his or her anger:
Ask: Am I angry? What exactly is stirring me up? Take a time-out.
Ask: Is what I am feeling appropriate to the situation?
Ask: What is expected of me in this situation? What is my goal? What do I want from this situation? What do others want?
Finally, I'll bet your boss has a sense of humor, but others may not have seen it. Laugh at his jokes and say, "I wish others could see how funny you are." That's a valuable antidote to the impact of an intense personality.
Write Dr. K at www.AskDoctorK.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut, Kansas City, MO 64106