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When to Lose Your Cool and When to Keep It

The ins and outs of when to get mad – and when to breathe deeply, calm down, and be a leader.




Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hang on

Stopstopstopstopstopstop. Before you freak out, before you lose your mind, before you go over there and yell at Mindy or Steve or Mindy and Steve… calm down and ask yourself a few questions.

Is it worth the risk to your reputation, to company morale? Is it worth having to follow through on your threats? Is it worth raising the volume? Because the next time you’re going to have to be even louder to make your point. Is it worth being so loud? Is it worth freaking people out?

Also: Is it worth the energy required to yell, to slam your fist? Is it worth the high blood pressure? The twitch in your eyelid? The twitch in both eyelids? The general bluster?

If you’ve decided that it’s worth the risk and it’s worth the energy, then let’s figure out how to do it. Let’s figure out how to be restrained and thoughtful about something that is mostly unrestrained and thoughtless.

Although anger is the most powerful impulse we have, it’s the one we think about the least – if we think about it too much, it ceases to be anger – but nothing should be more considered. With anger we can change the way people work. We can motivate them.

We-recommend-tickRecommended: Your Office Guide to Swearing At Work

We can make them realise they’ve caused offence. Also, we can scare them. We can make them curse us to their spouses. We can make them burn us in effigy. We can make them cry. Anger is a tricky, effective, terrifying thing – which is why it requires etiquette.

How to Be Angry

First, a conversation all of us should have with a psychologist before we act on
our rage.

All Of Us: We’re Pissed

Michael McCloskey, associate professor of psychology at Temple University, who studies aggressive and self-aggressive behaviour: In the heat of the moment, driven, competitive people can be quick to assume someone else’s action is negative or that they’re trying to get one over on them.

AOU: Oh, are we pissed

Michael McCloskey: Before you act on that, give yourself time to ask yourself: Is that the real reason, or are there any other reasons?

AOU: We’re listening.

MM: In the heat of the moment, especially when you’re angry, you’re going to think the fact that you’re angry is evidence that you’re right. So if an employee didn’t get something done, and you think it’s because they’re lazy and don’t care about their job or the business, you take your anger as evidence of being right. But if you stop, give yourself a moment and think about the hundred other possible reasons for it before you go in there screaming and yelling, you might find out the person’s kid was sick.

AOU: Kids, doc? We wanted to be myopic and now you’re making us look at things with a wider frame. You’re making us be thoughtful.

MM: … or something else happened, and this was someone who usually does a good job. You want to work with the person, versus coming down on them like a ton of bricks and losing the loyalty you’ve built up.

AOU: Ton of bricks. Damn.

MM: Humans have a wonderful ability to habituate to whatever we have to deal with. So what happens is that after a while, you have to scream more and louder and go to more extremes to get the same results. And then when you have to go to more extremes, you’re talking about physical stuff, and that’s how you get yourself fired or sued.

AOU: Yeah, we need to relax.

MM: Anger is a defence mechanism, a cue to let us know that our boundaries have been violated – a wake-up call. How we respond to that wake-up call can be either constructive or destructive.

How to be Constructive

Don’t act immediately. (Obviously.) Count to ten. Count to 20. Or don’t count – you’re not an eight-year-old. Maybe just sit there awkwardly staring at whoever is pissing you off.

If you want to blow up, you can always do it later, but you can’t undo it once you’ve done it. Displaying anger is like being given a bunch of data, picking out a random statistic and acting on whatever it suggests.

“If you stop and think about it, you might find there were other things that actually had you upset beforehand, and this is just the lowest-hanging fruit in terms of what to get upset about,” McCloskey says. The etiquette of anger is in the restraint. The etiquette is in being quiet. The etiquette is in not doing anything.

The etiquette is in the gathering of information, in listening, in not acting.

There are two currencies of business: Money and information. By not acting you maintain your dignity and continue gathering key information that can help you make an informed decision – including the decision to get angry or not.

Your anger will be implied anyway. And implied anger is the most effective anger – it forces the other party to temporarily guess at your feelings. They might end up apologising and making corrections before you’ve allowed yourself to be vulnerable. (That’s the thing about anger – it makes you powerful and vulnerable at the same time.)

As long as you’re not reacting, you’re controlling information. You are maintaining a dignified position. When it comes to anger, the etiquette is saving your ass – and possibly a relationship. Maybe even your business.

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Key Technical Matters

  • Silence! … Not them. You.
  • The only thing more terrifying than getting yelled at by a superior is being calmly asked to change your behaviour. Now that’s scary.
  • Being out of control is scary at first but comical later on.
  • Remember: If you lose control, you will be mocked at a gathering of those you’ve yelled at. You will be ridiculed. Your mental state will be pondered.
  • A flash of anger is like a comet: Long, long tail.
  • Think of yourself as a football team. Things aren’t going well? Timeout.
  • Counting to ten works. It’s a little infantilising, but it works.
  • Counting to 20 works, too. Takes longer, but it works.
  • Counting to 30 is a little too much.
  • Think of anger as a cue – not that someone has done something wrong, but that you have been hurt, that your boundaries have been violated, that this is the last in a long series of events that have upset you.
  • Thinking about what those things might be is a good way to spend those ten, 20 or 30 seconds.


Entrepreneur Today

Business Leadership: Leading A Culturally Diverse Business Team

The question every successful business leader needs to consider – How do we collectively experience joy and manage and/or avoid suffering as a business and as a team?

Dirk Coetsee




As I witnessed the rain dancing against the window panes of the Mega mall in Midvalley, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia I started reflecting on how to lead a culturally diverse business team.

Thousands of Malay, Chinese, Japanese, and Europeans passed me in the hallways of this gargantuan construction and the Dalai Lamas’ wise words reminded me that at the core of it all, irrespective of what your nationality is or what your belief system is, in general:

“We all want to experience joy and avoid suffering”

A key question that every team leader should carefully consider is how do we collectively experience joy and manage and/or avoid suffering as a business and as a team?

How can we as a diverse team be united in the joys of experiencing an expanding and successful business with a wonderful and constructive culture and avoid the suffering of a failing business and the negative experience of a toxic culture?  These are of course ‘loaded’ questions because inherent within these questions are the birthing of other key challenges –

How can we as Leaders create a relatively stable and inspirational environment from within which it is easier for each individual to unlock their vast potential when vast differences in upbringing, schooling, world views, and religious beliefs exists within one team. Especially when considering the ever changing and evolving business environment within which we operate?

Fulfilling the role of a Business Leadership coach, trainer, or life coach as the situation demanded over several years I have coached, Lead, or trained Pilipino, Chinese, Malay, African, and European people. A very key learning from my experiences is that a “cross cultural and shared understanding” can be created that transcends any spoken language or any national culture.

Related: Leadership – Lead Your Team To Dizzying Heights Of Productivity And Business Success

This common language and culture has many elements but for the purpose of this article I will focus on the three key aspects:

Have a united and focused purpose

When a united and focussed purpose exists for the business team that they collectively place higher than themselves the barriers of differences in upbringing, schooling, and world views can dissolve within their shared purpose. As business leaders we cannot refer to purpose too much, even more importantly that that, we must be living, walking and talking examples of the businesses’ purpose.

Related: Leadership: The Principle Of Authenticity

To simplify the concept of purpose it can be said that purpose is the highest intent for, or the very good reason why we do what we do. That reason is or should be even more important than ourselves. When we really love what we do and sincerely so our performance is likely to be very good, on the other hand if we totally dislike the line of business that we are in or totally despise our role within an entrepreneurial venture we are likely not going to unleash our unlimited potential.

It could be argued that the sole purpose for having a business is to make a profit. Through this article I argue that that is not a strong enough reason to sustain you and make you thrive even through difficult times. The strange thing is that when you truly live your purpose with all your might and tirelessly inspire your team to do the same the money comes anyway…

 Servant heart and attitude

Rabindranath TagoreRabindranath Tagore famously said:

“I dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold service was joy.”

A servant heart is universal and transcends cultural difference, a sincere and giving smile is a beautiful language of its own that needs no translation. If that ‘servant heart and smile’ is underpinned by well-developed people and technical skills it multiplies into a potent combination of character, experience, and wisdom that has great influential power within any culture.

Related: Leadership: What Is Your Why? (Read Purpose)

Whether it is through the use of interpreters, and even if it takes great patience, even when a lot of mistakes are made, persevere until everyone in the team understands that servant leadership is the key to winning the minds and hearts of others.

When all in the team becomes aware that we were only ever meant to master ourselves and thereby become better servants to all, this heightened awareness can unlock the unlimited potential within individuals in the team.

Respect for people and their worldviews

poet RumiMy favourite poet Rumi said:

‘The wound is where the light seeps in’

Respect all as we could not understand each individuals’ pain and hardships unless we went through it ourselves. Have compassion for all as we, in general expect compassion when we go through hardships. We can only imagine what sets of beliefs we would entertain where we to grow up in a completely different culture.

Related: Leadership: Honesty Is The First Chapter In The Book Of Wisdom

My endless curiosity and determination to learn has served me well as a coach for when your interest in others is sincere they tend to ‘open up’ to you and share and thereby you fasttrack your own learning and gain insights into your co-team members worldviews which in turn greatly enhances the team dynamics.

Be authentic and acknowledge your vulnerabilities, ‘wounds’ and shortcomings and be proud of your strengths for then your team members will help you to overcome your weaknesses and learn from your strengths.

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15 Ways To Command A Conversation Like A Boss

If you’re the one talking, it’s your responsibility to make sure others are listening.



Prev1 of 16


Conversations can elicit a range of emotions. They may be daunting, or they may be dreaded. They may be awkward, or they may be monotonous. The good news is, you, as a participant in any conversation, have more control than you think about whether these emotions overtake the dialogue.

Having a successful conversation is about striking the balance between preparedness and flexibility, between explaining your thoughts clearly and knowing when to pause or check in. It’s about being upfront about your preferences and ideas while being open to adapting them based on what comes of the discussion.

A fruitful conversation stems from establishing a rapport with someone. Show them you know where they’re coming from. Clarify that you understand what they’ve said. Be respectful of their time and don’t dictate back to them how you perceive them to be thinking or feeling. Keep questions open-ended. Experiment with new conversation settings or styles. And don’t give in to the internal voices that try to convince you to defer too much or suffer in silence.

To help you get your points across and help others convey theirs, read through the following 15 tips, which expand more on the ideas above.

Prev1 of 16

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Being A Born Entrepreneur Doesn’t Automatically Mean You’re A Born Leader

The person who has the vision to start a company might not be the person to grow the company.

William Harris




More often than not, we tend to think of entrepreneurship and leadership as synonymous qualities.

Entrepreneurs are expected to break new ground, be innovative, start something new. It only stands to reason they would naturally take charge of what they’ve created and lead it.

However, it turns out that the required skills of an effective entrepreneur are almost entirely different from the required skills of an effective leader. As many CEOs of growing companies can tell you, there’s a vast difference between creating a business and growing one.

One of the primary reasons great entrepreneurs including Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Henry Ford were so influential was precisely because they were both master entrepreneurs and leaders.

Related: Leadership: Honesty Is The First Chapter In The Book Of Wisdom

To successfully grow a business, an entrepreneur must learn how to become an effective leader. Here are the five leadership skills every entrepreneur must master:


Entrepreneurs, and especially solopreneurs, who run growing businesses are eventually shocked to realise it is impossible to do everything by themselves. Most entrepreneurs are uncomfortable with the idea of delegation. They want to do everything themselves because they have a natural sense of ownership over their work. They find it difficult to believe anyone else would do what needs to be done. After all, they were the ones who built the business from scratch all by themselves.

The reality is, though, as a business grows, so does the amount of work that needs to go into running it.

Leaders understand their own time and energy are finite resources. Great leaders understand that, to be most effective in the company, they must play to their strengths and delegate their weaknesses to others who are more qualified.

Steve Jobs famously played a very small part in building the OS and designing the original Apple computers. He knew how to grow a business, so he focused on what he could do and wisely left it to Steve Wozniak and his team to execute his vision.


lone-wolfThe perk of being a lone wolf is that you know exactly what needs to be done and the right way to do it. But, that has to change when you find yourself a leader.

We all have horror stories of working for a manager who didn’t communicate instructions effectively, which inevitably leads to confusion and frustration from both parties. As a leader, you’ll need to clearly and succinctly explain everything from your vision to administrative tasks to your employees.

But, communication is not a one-way street. You need to know what to say and how to listen. Effective leaders don’t simply give orders. They accept feedback and criticism, as well.

A constant bridge of communication between a leader and an employee not only reduces inefficiencies but also leads to a healthier and more productive workplace for all.

Related: The One Leadership Trait That Will Ensure You Succeed At Anything You Do


Entrepreneurs seldom lack in the inspiration department. They were passionate enough to start a business themselves, but not everyone shares their enthusiasm. A key skill of any good leader is to inspire the people around them.

It’s not enough to simply tell people what their job is and expect them to do it. To get the most out of your team, you have to make them believe in your vision and feel like they’re actively making an impact in their role. This is especially important when working in a start-up.

The good news is that anyone can become an inspiring leader as long as they create a clear culture around the company’s vision, values, and beliefs.

When Howard Schultz returned to Starbucks as CEO, he quickly realised the majority of his employees were no longer focused on providing customers with a positive experience. This led him to shut down 7,100 stores one day to retrain all baristas on making an espresso. This bold move not only sharpened his employees’ technical skills, but also quickly brought Starbucks’ ultimate vision back into focus.


As an entrepreneur, you should be well aware of just how powerful a mentor can be to personal and professional growth. As a leader, if you want your employees to be as effective as possible, you need to do more than just give them orders.

Along with giving them the resources they need to do their job well, you also need to be able to help them move forward in their own careers.

This can be as simple as offering them training in skills they are interested in, giving them more responsibilities, or spending more one-on-one time with them. Leaders should be able to do more than just lead from the front; they have to be able to provide support from behind as well.

By adopting a coaching mentality, you can be assured of your employees’ loyalty to you and your vision. Plus, helping your employees achieve their full potential means they’re more likely be an asset to you and your business.

Related: How To Make Speedy Decisions As A Leader


It should go without saying that being innovative and adaptive is key for entrepreneurs. But, instead of only using their knack for problem-solving on market opportunities, leaders are also focused on providing solutions for problems within the company.

A large part of running a growing company is learning how to deal with internal problems like employee disputes, disorganisation, or a lack of motivation. Employees will always look to the leader to solve these issues.

When no clear-cut solutions are present, leaders need to be able to think outside the box. One surefire way to quickly lose both the respect and trust of your employees is to outsource the solution to someone else or avoid responsibility by blaming others.

Last-minute changes and mishaps happen in any business, so it’s up to the leader to adapt quickly and show everyone else the right way to handle these situations.

If entrepreneurs who have the passion and innovation to start their own businesses can develop these five skills of great leaders, they will be most effective in leading those businessess into growth and a bright future.

Read next: What Kind Of Leader Are You?

This article was originally posted here on

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