How to express frustration productively

You can’t afford to let a bad mood ruin your whole staff’s day too. Techify CEO Brendan Howe explains how he channels his grumpiness better

Techify CEO Brendan Howe.

Techify CEO Brendan Howe.

Brendan Howe, President and CEO of Techify (and a sleep-deprived dad of two small children), explains his strategies for leading a team when he’s in a rotten mood:

I’m not a yelling and screaming type of person, but when I’m grumpy, my frustration is pretty visible. I can be fairly short with people.

The two biggest things that make me grumpy are if I don’t feel my business is achieving the goals that I’ve set out, and being tired. I’m a very goal-focused, hard-driving person and what gets me energized and pumped up for the day is when we’re doing great things. I also have a two-year-old and a six-year-old at home. God help my staff in the weeks after my first child was born.

When I’m aware that I’m not having a happy day, simply telling people that helps, because otherwise they can take it personally. In our office we joke around quite a bit, but if somebody makes a joke and I don’t respond very well and they don’t know why, it can add to a lot of tension and angst.

Sometimes I just close my door so I don’t have to talk to people. Or I’ll leave; we’re lucky enough to have a ground-floor office, so if I’m frustrated I’ll literally just walk out the office and go for a walk. And if I snap at somebody and I think it’s uncalled for or my behaviour wasn’t professional, I’ll either go back and talk to the person or send them a quick message and apologize for it.

I’ve figured the things that will reduce my level of grumpiness. I try everything in my power to get a good night’s sleep and to make sure I don’t waste time on silly things like TV. I try to exercise at least three or four times a week—I’ll play hockey and hop on the bike. If I don’t eat, I’m miserable, so even if I’m hopping between client or prospect or vendor meetings, I’ll stop en route or drive to a Tim Hortons to pick up some food.

If you’re in a leadership role, you’re there to motivate, inspire and energize people. If you’re being a grumpy bastard, you’re not energizing anybody.