Leaders need to cultivate self-regulation and self-control to communicate effectively.
Don’t freak out and react poorly as a leader. Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash

Boss-Level Self-Control: Improve Your Leadership Communication

Learn to self-regulate in a way that you are composed, confident, and respected among your staff, peers, and clients.

“The best fighter is never angry” — Lao Tzu

“He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.” — Lao Tzu

“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

In section 5.5.2 of Batool’s Emotional Intelligence and Effective Leadership, the author discusses Self-Regulation as a leadership strategy (Batool, 2013, p.88). In my quest to become a better leader, I have been reading a lot of leadership improvement books, articles, and blog posts, and this theme keeps resonating with me.

Upon self-examination and reflecting upon my failures in leadership and embarrassing times when I handled things poorly, the reason was usually lack of self-control. I said or did something impulsively as a reaction to a situation, a client, or a teammate that I would later regret. I have even fired a key vendor because the salesperson was extremely pushy and manipulative, which caused us issues for the next several months. When I look back at these moments which I regret, the reason is usually lack of self-regulation.

It is not always a huge meltdown. In fact, usually it is a sentence that I say that displays my lack of patience, or an increase in my irritability that is obvious through my tone. It is enough that my team knows that I am not communicating as a leader. My peers and employees know that I am communicating as a leader when I display confidence and discipline in the face of stress and critical situations.

Leaders need to contain their anger in stressful, critical situations to give the best response while continuing to lead.
Contain your rage. Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash

Self-regulation is really discipline: the ability to think before acting (Gourguechon, 2018).

Leaders who self-regulate do not attack others, make rushed emotional decisions, or stereotype (Batool, 2013, p.88).

Leaders who self-regulate and adapt in the face of bad news, stress, or conflict displays composure and confidence to those they lead (Gourguechon, 2018).

So how do I get there from here? What is my strategy to improve my own self-regulation to in those critical, stressful situations to avoid responding poorly? How can I be the leader that my team needs me to be?


“Aren’t you going to respond to that customer, Art? I think you need to call them right now!” is something that I hear at least once a month from my peers. My peers do not realize that the relationship may be in even more jeopardy if I respond right now, and that the best strategy is to wait a bit. Even though some situations feel like they warrant an immediate response, many can wait.

Holding Yourself Accountable

Having a Peer Accountability Partner

Having a Personal ‘Code of Ethics’

Practicing Calm

Staying Healthy


In order to lead effectively without jeopardizing your role, your team, and your relationships, use these strategies in order to get you through those stressful, critical times when it seems natural to freak out:

  • Using delay
  • Holding yourself accountable
  • Finding an accountability peer
  • Developing a code of ethics
  • Practicing calm
  • Staying healthy
Having a strategy to deal with stress and conflict is important in being an effective leader.
Happy leader, happy team. Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash


Batool, B. F. (2013). Emotional Intelligence and Effective Leadership. Retrieved from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=

Gourguechon, Prudy. (2018) A Neglected But Essential Leadership Trait — Why Self-Control Really Matters. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/prudygourguechon/2018/04/03/a-neglected-but-essential-leadership-trait-why-self-control-really-matters/#54a16212787a

Pychyl, Timothy. (2009). Self-regulation Failure (Part 1): Goal Setting and Monitoring. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/dont-delay/200902/self-regulation-failure-part-1-goal-setting-and-monitoring

Self Control Quotes. (n.d.) Goodreads. Retrieved from https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/self-control

Art Ocain is the President & Chief Operating Officer at MePush, Inc. a managed service provider that serves IT architecture, operations, and cybersecurity needs across all verticals. Art has been in IT for over 20 years and has been a tech in the trenches as well as a manager in web hosting, internet service providers, enterprise IT, as well as services for the SMB market. You can read more on his LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/artocain/



Art is a CISO and formerly held roles as a CIO, CTO, and President at managed service providers. He is experienced at leading IT ops and cybersecurity teams.

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Art Ocain

Art is a CISO and formerly held roles as a CIO, CTO, and President at managed service providers. He is experienced at leading IT ops and cybersecurity teams.