“Teams Work Best under Angry Leaders”

This statement is false as a general rule. However, there are situations when teams perform their best when their leader is angry. If you have ever seen an episode of one of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s reality television shows (Hell’s Kitchen , The F Word , Kitchen Nightmares )— where Ramsay regularly terrorizes culinary teams with outbursts, threats, and intimidation—you have seen how angry leaders motivate. But does this approach really get results? Many of us would be skeptical. A harsh, temperamental approach to leading teams would seem to be reliably counterproductive. Who would want to work for such a leader?

As it turns out, the angry team leader may, in fact, have his or her place. A recent study found that whereas teams filled with relatively agreeable members were the most motivated and performed the best when their leader showed happiness, teams filled with relatively disagreeable members were the most motivated and did best when their leader expressed anger.

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Why do disagreeable teams do their best when their leader is angry? Disagreeable individuals are more direct, more argumentative, and less conflict-averse than their more agreeable counterparts. Disagreeable teams may react better to an angry leader because the leader is speaking a language the team can understand, or the disagreeable team members may be less sensitive to inconsiderate behavior (of which the display of anger is a prime example). 

Asked to reflect on his angry approach to leading teams, Ramsay said, “When there’s no adrenaline flying high and there’s very little pressure created, you don’t get results.” For some types of teams (those filled with team members as disagreeable as their leader), it appears he is right. Tough love seems to work best with tough teams.

 (Adopted from Stephen P. Robbins & Timothy A. Judge, 2013, Organisational Behaviour)


1. Select an organisation and analyse the growing popularity of teams in that organisations.

2. Describe how leaders’ emotions and followers’ personalities shape motivation and team performance.

3. How can leaders bring unspoken conflicts into the open without making them worse?

Word Limit

Word Limit: Not more than 2,500 – 3,000 Words [excluding References & Appendices Page]

 Please note that words in diagrams, charts, tables, captions, citations and references are not considered into the word count.

 Marking Criteria

The marking criteria will consider the following in each question:

§  Marks will be allocated for familiarity with subject/material and evidence of original thinking.

§  Marks will be allocated for quality of argument/reasoning; the depth of analysis; expansion of ideas/argument and recognition of wider context/complexity of topic.

§  Marks will be allocated for the relevance of answer to task set; the accuracy of details; consistency of focus and the organisation of ideas.

§  Marks will be allocated for the critiquing information sources in terms of credibility and relevance.

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