11-Oct-2023 by Allison McMillan

Read Time: Approx. 3 minutes

Leading Through Pain

In this time of immense trauma and pain, I know many leaders are struggling with what to say and how to say it, for a variety of reasons. Some don't know what to say, some think most (if not all) of their employees are unaffected so there's no need to say anything, and others don't want to wade into the political aspects of the conversations. These are all valid fears and concerns but this is a moment when you shouldn't ignore what is happening.

Equally important is how you are making time and space for yourself. As you hear, absorb, and listen to pain from others directly or through news sources and social media, it takes a toll on you, especially if you are also directly affected. Here are some thoughts and ideas for supporting your people and supporting yourself.

Supporting Your People

I'm often very quiet on these issues, and maybe I'll delete this post in the future but right now Jewish employees are practically begging their non-Jewish friends, colleagues, and companies to reach out. To say something to acknowledge the pain they are experiencing. Your statement does not have to be long, and it does not have to be complex. As a manager, your outreach does not need to be long and it does not need to be complex, but it does need to happen. Here are some things you can say:

  • How can I best support you?
  • Reaching out to say I am here for you
  • I can't imagine what this is like
  • I'm so sorry

Some things you can actively do right now for anyone affected by what happening:

  • Make space for what they need
  • Recognize that what an individual needs might ebb and flow based on news consumption, processing, social media, news they hear from friends and family, and more. When someone tells you what they need, don't assume that's what they need for the next week(s).
  • Help clear other obstacles for them. If there are parts of work that take more patience or mental energy, those might be tasks they can't or don't want to handle right now. This goes hand-in-hand with helping to recognize and listen to what support they need

Supporting Yourself

A lot is written about how to support your direct reports or what you should do as a leader in these moments. Leaders go into "go mode". They made a statement, they support the individuals around them, they help make sure others are processing and taking the time they need. They also frequently make statements in larger groups of people to vocalize what folks with less organizational power might not feel comfortable saying. And then, as leaders, we process later. Days later or sometimes weeks later.
  • Make sure you are making time for yourself.
  • Try to communicate what you need as well from others, from your manager, peers, and/or direct reports
  • Find your spaces of support. I know that can be extremely difficult, especially for Jewish leaders. It can feel isolating or like you have been deserted. If you find yourself there and can't find a supportive space for yourself, let me know. I'm here for you too.

Some additional resources from folks who are much more articulate than myself in this moment:

a sad girl hugging a heart that is a little damaged

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