There is a good news article on Harvard Business Review about managing those whose lives have been upended, written by the author of six New York Times best-sellers, Bruce Feiler. In it, he makes the distinction between “voluntary” disruptions in one’s life — say, buying a home or having a child — and “involuntary” disruptions — say, sadly, the loss of a parent, a pet, a job, etc.
It’s worth noting that while many managers and organizational leaders can handle disruption around product and process (although not all can do it well), very few can handle disruption around personal issues, be it their own or their teams. I actually once saw someone get divorced after 17 years; when he returned to work, his manager gave him a $10 Starbucks gift card and that was basically it.
I doubt that the new divorcee really wanted to run through walls for that manager after he got his coffee and muffin with the gift card, right? And if you want to be a transformative leader, not just a transactional one, you need to get good at the people side of all this. It is messy and confusing and oftentimes awkward, but if you can’t do that side, you will struggle with real growth and gains around your business and yourself.