A great leader faces the music, even when he doesn’t like the tune.” ~ Anon
Businesses are made of people, and loss can be as devastating at work as it is in your personal life. It’s natural that people struggle and suffer when:
- Companies are merged or acquired
- Legacy brands are lost
- Departments are closed
- People are lost, or
- When leaders are shown the door.
Often, loyalty and trust issues escalate, and energy from normally dedicated employees gets diverted into fear-based resistance.
Authentic leadership during times of crisis honours the loss. You might wonder at the thought of a corporate funeral service, but people immediately “get” that something is passing away, never to return. It sets the traditional tone: to remember the good, bid farewell to the past, accept the change, and grieve the loss.
It’s a big challenge for any leader, especially one who is ensconced in logistical details. But in organizations who have undertaken this cutting-edge form of leadership, staff have lauded the courage of their managers.
In a society more comfortable with beginnings than endings, there seems to be no recognized opposite of “the ribbon cutting ceremony.” Yet there are times when an initiative is closing, a beloved building or local landmark is being “deconstructed”, or a piece of history is being lost in the wake of progress.
At some point, a dignified farewell is the most valiant action you can take: to remember the past, to prepare for the future, and to heal the community. A ceremony that plans for these, gives people the opportunity to honour their collective past and commit to their unfolding future.