Work/Life balance is important to me, so it isn’t often you’ll find me writing on the weekend. But today I need to.
If you have been in leadership of any kind for a while, you know that hard decisions just come with the territory. Sometimes it means parting ways with employees for performance-based reasons. Sometimes it means discontinuing a product because it is either redundant and/or has run its course. Sometimes financially based decisions are made such that investment in a product/portfolio dwindles and eventually ceases all together. And with this latter scenario, sometimes it means laying people off.
Not too long ago, I posted about a friend who had been experiencing what could only be characterized as a “wilderness moment” in his career … a time of self-doubt, a time of questioning his abilities, a time of wondering if his decisions could have been different. I had worked with this talented product manager in multiple companies. His was one of the products caught up in the example of investment reductions above, and I subsequently had to lay him off. We both saw it coming, but that didn’t make it any easier. A few months later, more investment reductions to the point that my entire portfolio was impacted, and I ended up leaving the company too.
Not coincidentally, I wrote about how life is full of storms not too long after that. I commented that while we cannot always control our circumstances, we can control how we respond. I made the point that depending on the approach you take in dealing with the storms, the outcomes can be very different. But generally you can emerge from them stronger on the other side.
I am on the other side of those storms now, and since it had been a while since I had reached out to my friend, I decided to call him this past Thursday to see how his storms were faring. While I know that it was a business decision that led to his layoff, and I know I’m ultimately not responsible for his reactions to those circumstances, as a leader there is always that pang of doubt.
I left him a message letting him know I was thinking about him. Today I learned he had taken his life. Even though I know I’m not to blame … I HATE this part of being a leader!