Much of what we do in business leadership is future/goal oriented. In business, we don’t like to think about or process loss. We prefer to move on and make something new happen. We avert our eyes when our favorite teammate leaves. When we didn’t make the prior quarterly goals, we strategize how to make the next quarter happen. When the company ownership changes, we look to what the new folks have to offer us or cling to the old ways, trying to keep things the same as they’ve always been. Perhaps we even try to take control where we can. And when tragedy strikes, we try to work our way out of it. All of these approaches seem reasonable for a business.
Yet, most businesses are a collection of actual people — people with emotions, people of all Enneagram types, each experiencing loss from differing backgrounds and perspectives. While the impact is individual, it is also collective. Of course, every individual has the ultimate responsibility to process loss for themselves, however support from leadership is always helpful and a useful business approach. And understanding the collective impact is both wise and necessary in leading organizations and their people through tough times.
So, how do leaders look to the future while not averting their eyes from current reality?
- First, I think leaders should pause and fully acknowledge the human toll. I believe that when that toll is unacknowledged, unsettled issues with the loss, sadness, unresolved grief, blaming, and anger will find a way into the gestalt of the organization and deter moving forward in a sustained way. Not pausing actually slows down organizational recovery in the long run.
- Unresolved means unresolved. Notice where you might be pushing things under the rug. There’s a time to move on, and there’s a time to be patient with people and the organization.
- Just because it’s time to lean more into the future doesn’t mean everyone is on board. Check around to see who might have gotten lost along the way and help them find their way back.Remember where you’re going. Consider whether or not you are moving in the right direction. Is it time to adjust? Pay attention to adjustments needed along the way.
Most importantly, remain open to learning the lessons of difficult times. They may just lead you into a brighter future.
If you’re in the midst of one of these situations and need a sounding board or some additional perspective, give us a call. We’re always glad to help.