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Illustration: Tiago Galo

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. God help my staff in the weeks after my first child was born.

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.

This article is from the August 2016 issue of Canadian Business. Subscribe now!

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