Discipline Without Anger – Inspiring Obedience From Your Troops

Popular culture has long lead us to believe that there are two main styles of leadership and that these can be categorised as either ‘stick’ or ‘carrot’, the concept here being that you can inspire obedience either by threat of punishment (stick) or by promise of reward (carrot). This dates back to the days when we rode donkeys and motivated them forward either by hitting them when they stopped or by dangling a carrot in front of them. It’s a shame we can’t go back to those times and ask which method worked better…

Unfortunately this has resulted in many managers and teachers who prefer the stick method mistakenly believing that they should shout at and regale their subjects at every possible opportunity. Here it seems that discipline has given way to anger and frustration, and unfortunately this often has quite the opposite effect and can often result in workers losing their respect for their superiors. The secret to success as a leader then is to practice discipline without anger.

It is well known that anger clouds judgement, and so it stands to reason that your instructions when shouted will be taken less seriously than they will if they’re calmly relayed. Anger is a blunt response with which there is no reasoning, and so to angrily ‘have a go’ at your staff will only result in them becoming angry themselves which does not create a productive environment. It’s important then to calmly explain the sources of your dissatisfaction and why precisely it’s important that things be done in a certain way. If they can see the reasoning and logic behind your gripes, then even if they don’t agree with them they will be more likely to sympathise and to go along with what you’re saying. At the same time it also shows that you value their opinion and acknowledge their capabilities – where as shouting ‘telling off’ is how you treat a child. Discipline without anger then is far more fitting of an office scenario, or even a classroom if you want the children to behave like adults.

If you constantly fly off the handle it also shows an element of weakness. Anger is a result of a fragile disposition and often worsened by stress. Thus someone in a constant state of anger is not going to portray an image of someone who has everything under control and who has the cool and the understanding to be instructing other people too. For this reason someone who shows a lot of anger is rarely fully respected by their staff and it can then become a game for them to try and set you off or see how far they can push it. Similarly someone who constantly shouts has nothing else they can give – if you constantly hear them shout with no consequences then you won’t be afraid to do whatever it is again. Discipline without anger on the other hand is far more impressive, it shows that the leader means business, knows what they are talking about and . Similarly someone who never shouts is far scarier to get on the bad side of as no one will have seen them ‘mad’ before and won’t want to find out what it’s like.

So it’s important then to learn to control your anger and to instead calmly explain to subordinates exactly why what they’ve done is a problem and what the consequences will be if they do it again. This represents a far more real (and less cartoon-like) warning as well keeping them on your side and stopping them from reacting badly or acting out. At the same time you may want to drop in an element of the carrot as incentive to perform, or maybe give them more responsibility rather than take any away so as to increase their job satisfaction and their desire to do well. Practice discipline without anger or face anger without discipline.

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