Skip to main content
Tip of the Day

How to lead a team out of frustration or fear

By July 28, 2021September 12th, 2022No Comments

Last week I shared articles focusing on what you can do each day to engage and focus your remote team as well as managing stress and get some control back.
In this blog I am going to focus on helping you and your team with anger, fear and adjustment. 
You may be starting to notice increased frustration or anger towards decisions being made by governments, authorities or even closer to home your community, and executive team (at work and at home!).  
Anger is a normal human experience to feel and I can completely understand why this is happening. I felt angry myself when Boris Johnson said he was shaking hands with people who had Covid-19 (and that was before he got sick). More recently I felt that way when I heard of people spitting on police who are just doing their job by making sure people are following current rules around social distancing. Feeling angry is okay but acting with aggression or abuse, is not okay. 
In my experience I have noticed that anger is often a cover for fear. And lets face it, we don’t like experiencing fear or anger and want to get rid of the feeling, ASAP. When we don’t recognise our anger is a cover for fear, it can lead to us expressing our fear as aggression.  This isn’t being angry, this is being aggressive. In some cases this is being intimidating and abusive, and not okay. As a Leader there is so much more pressure on you to keep teams engaged even when you are feeling angry or frustrated. Underlying your anger or frustration is likely to be a fear of “Can I do this?” or “What if we don’t make it?” or “How am I going juggle home? Schooling, and the kids? AND lead my team!?”
When we recognise that our anger is due to an underlying fear, we can still feel angry without it becoming aggressive.
For example: I felt angry yesterday when someone was not social distancing in the supermarket at the self-checkout. Rather than snap at the person or be sarcastic, which is another form of aggression,  I took a breath and said “Hi, I am sorry but can I ask that you take two steps left or just wait for a moment – I won’t be long”.  
I had a client just yesterday say to me that one of his team members was blaming his lack of productivity on a group phone call due to not having good wifi at home. The leader said he regretted reacting with “That’s your problem and you need to deal with it”. He wished he had asked to speak to the person later and find out how he could help. This leader was tired and had just had an argument with their 12 year old about screen time. Completely understand why this leader wasn’t at their best by the way!
So try this.
I call it the George Costanza. If you are a Seinfeld fan you will get this straight away.
George was a character on the TV show Seinfeld, and was a pretty negative and selfish person, and nothing seemed to go right for him, then one day he decided to do the opposite of his natural way, and immediately his life improved. He got a great job, girlfriend …everything started to work out for him.
In the next 24 hours when you feel that tug of frustration or anger or are about to react – do the exact opposite. For example ask rather than tell. Show kindness over sarcasm. Walk instead of drink more alcohol.
There is some good science behind this approach.It is called cognitive reframing. 
Try it. Feel frustrated? Visualise George Costanza and do a George Costanza! 

Margie Ireland works with CEO’s, executives, HR professionals, managers and leaders. Margie is a psychologist with a strong commercial background of 25 years and specialises in supporting highly capable leaders to thrive in challenging times. To discuss your needs and to book an initial no-obligation 15 minute call, click here.