The Best Way to Control Your Leadership Frustrations

Everyone in a leadership position experiences some degree of frustration from time to time—and for some, it’s nearly constant. In my work as a leadership coach I often see leaders express frustration. The reasons vary, from not knowing how to handle crisis or just plain having unreasonable expectations.

Whatever the cause of the frustration, you may find yourself wishing you could lash out and say exactly what you’re thinking. But leadership requires setting a good example with a response that’s calm and measured, one that points toward a positive solution even when the situation is challenging.

So how do experienced leaders control their frustration? Chances are, they best leaders are using some of these techniques:

They’ve learned to pause. instead of saying the first thing that comes to mind, they count to ten or take a few deep breaths until the first words they want to say have passed. Then, even if they need to express anger, they can do so calmly and reasonably.

They practice observation. Things never happen in a vacuum, and knowing the context of a frustrating behavior or situation can be the key to resolving it. The more closely they observe their team and its interactions, the better they can understand the big picture.

They work to always dig deeper. The very best leaders know that finding a solution to any frustration requires tracing it all the way back to its source. They don’t settle for superficial explanations but keep digging to find the underlying cause.

They’ve mastered the neutrality of a bystander. They know how to let someone speak without putting forth their own emotions, giving the other person the ability to say what they need to say and clear the air. It can be hard to do when you want to interrupt or argue or just walk away, but I tell the leaders I coach to listen like a bystander or someone watching a movie when someone is venting. Let them get it out of their system so everyone can start working together toward a solution.

They know how to put out fires. It’s easy to make a small fire big or a big fire bigger—it just takes a little fuel. The role of the leader is to control their own frustration so they can prevent the flames from being fed. Once the fire has died down, it’s easier to keep it under control and in time eliminate it completely.

Controlling your emotions is a big part of the emotional intelligence needed for great leadership, especially in times of change and challenge.

We all admire those people who can keep their cool in tense situations. Controlling frustration may be a demanding skill to learn, but it’s one that every leader should master.

Lead from within: At the end of the day, we all want to be around leaders who are saner, kinder, and more skillful in engagement than we are. This is part of why we admire great leaders and they have so much to teach us.


#1 N A T I O N A L  B E S T S E L L E R

The Leadership Gap
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR,, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

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