“Leaders who experience anger frequently may have a difficult time building good relationships with followers and engendering their trust.” - George, J. M. (2000, August). Emotions and leadership: The role of emotional intelligence. Human Relations, 53(8), 1027.
Anger and its Implications for Ethical Leadership in Organizations
This paper argues that those in leadership positions are confronted by many manifestations of anger at various levels of organizational life. They are required to deal with own and other anger. However, despite having access to numerous possible approaches to and guidelines for leadership, very little is ever said about anger and leadership. A brief survey of some of the leadership literature suggests, for example, that much of it details the various types of leader, desirable traits, skills, habits and/or qualities for leadership; various approaches to leadership; distinctions between managers and leaders; leader failure or problem leaders; emotional intelligence and leadership; and work on leadership for the future or on emerging issues in leadership. Rarely in this literature on leadership is there any mention of anger. The leadership literature excels in directing our attention to the ‘ideals’ for leadership, whether these be in terms of character or of conduct. There are many lists of those virtues and qualities required for the ethical leader, but of most vices, and of anger in particular, there is no mention. Therefore the paper suggests this silence needs to be acknowledged and broken and, to this end, examines the nature of anger as well as possible implications for ethical leadership in the organization. It concludes by providing an ethical framework which may be used either reactively or proactively by leaders for ethically evaluating the anger process.
Marilise. E. Smurthwaite
Professor Marilise Smurthwaite is head of the Department of Applied Ethics at St Augustine College of South Africa, where she lectures in business ethics. Her areas of research and publication include issues on the corporation and economic justice in South Africa, Catholic Social Thought, especially as an ethical framework for examining the economy and related issues, and ethical business leadership. Her publications include work on the purpose of the corporation, the unequal distribution of wealth in South Africa, executive remuneration, governance and Catholic social teaching, the moral responsibilities of leaders in various sectors, and ethics in banking. She is a member of the International Society of Business, Economics and Ethics (ISBEE) and in 2010 was one of the sub-regional coordinators for the Global Survey of Business Ethics. She has also addressed conferences, given workshops and presentations on ethics and politics, ethics and corruption, economic justice and ethical leadership and has participated in both radio and television broadcasts on morality, ethics and business ethics.