Leading in Tragedy
I think every leader will face some type of tragedy in their organization. Something unexpected and sad will happen to someone in the organization. How do you lead through that? Speak to it not around it. Sometimes we want to talk in big cosmic platitudes, rather than deal with an uncomfortable issue. For instance, “We can’t answer all of the questions, but trust in God’s grace.” “They’re in a better place, and we will see them one day.” While true, these don’t deal with a real issue, but just talk in sweeping statements that need a better context. Specifically, as a follower of Jesus, how do you speak to it and not around it?
Be honest – Specifically address the specific situation. Seems simple. If it’s a car wreck, cancer, suicide, drug overdose, accident – address it. Don’t shrink back because you don’t have the answer. Don’t sugar coat it with super spiritual language. “God’s in control.” “We can’t always understand God’s plan.” No kidding. But we’re not responsible for circumstances we’re not responsible for. It’s uncomfortable. It’s also on everyone’s mind. If you don’t address it specifically, they don’t think you have anything to offer.
Be hopeful – Don’t stay in the tragedy, but turn the corner. Point out the good that can come from it. Don’t attribute the tragedy to God, but show them hope through Jesus. As someone said, it may not be worth it, but don’t waste it. God can redeem it. Life can be different now, and here’s how we’re gonna get there. Point the way forward.
Be present – I know, it doesn’t start with an H :). You can’t answer every question, but you can answer some of them. If you aren’t around to know the question, you don’t know how to help. However, most of the time help is just about being there, not answering questions.
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