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  • Eileen McDargh

Leading through Loss


Leading through Loss

Certainly, 2020 and into 2021 have been marked by tremendous loss. First, for many of us, we lost parents, siblings, children, and dear friends. We might have watched our businesses plummet, our communities locked down, our gatherings minimized, and possibly even our faith diminished. What we once took for granted might now be a rarity.


How does one lead when faced with a Rubik’s cube of such complexity?


As I pondered these questions for myself, certain thoughts arose. Certainly, wisdom passed down from elders, mentors, and sages said the same thing: start small. Start with me.

And since none of us operate in a vacuum, it means gathering my team around me so that I can model and create a space for their loss. Consider these actions:

  • Acknowledge the obvious loss and the not-so-obvious emotions. This can include the loss of people, clients, finances, even job titles.

  • Encourage your team—on an optional basis-- to share in a similar fashion.

  • Ask what support might be offered to those who experience loss. Who might be in need of a kind word, financial assistance, a hot meal—heck—even my famous lemon cake. Simple things connect us as humans.

  • Practice empathetic listening to your own heart as well as the hearts of others.

  • Begin crafting a preferred future scenario with the team. This is not the time to hunker down on details but rather to become expansive in what might be a preferred future.

  • What small actions can be taken to move from the loss into hope. Action is the antidote for anxiety and putting things in motion allows us to feel more in control of what might have felt quite uncontrollable.

  • Stay in touch. First—with yourself. Begin every day in at least 10 minutes of quiet mindfulness. Consider writing two intentions for the day and two things that bring a sense of gratitude. Encourage team members to do the same.

We will get through this time of loss. New possibilities will rise. We just need to build the bridge from what is to what can be.