16 Ways to Lead Through Sadness

Some of the world’s great leaders held hands with sadness, Lincoln and Churchill for example. It wouldn’t surprise me if you do too.

Sadness isn’t the end of leadership. It may be a beginning.

Sorrow precedes birth.


Happiness confirms, but moving through sadness transforms. Happiness wants more of the same. Sadness cries for change.

Sorrow is a normal response to not getting what you want.

5 dangers of sadness:

  1. Lost vision.
  2. Feeling helpless.
  3. Anger.
  4. Bitterness.
  5. Isolation.

Sadness is often the first phase in transformation.

16 ways to lead through sadness:

  1. Bring up issues “happy” people like to ignore.
  2. Limit your exposure to blood sucking vampires.
  3. Look for things to praise. You spend too much time looking for problems, disappointments, and things to fix.
  4. Set personal boundaries.
  5. Clarify what you want.
  6. Focus on things within your control.
  7. Take action to create what you want.
  8. Allow yourself time. Sadness, like happiness, is part of life.
  9. Listen.
  10. Believe life has purpose.
  11. Spend money on experiences not things.
  12. Rest. Sometimes, the message of sadness is stop, or at least slow down.
  13. Develop deep friendships. You’ll have to open up for this to happen.
  14. Reach out to people. Don’t wait for them to come to you.
  15. Be grateful.
  16. Reward others.

Bonus: Take walks. Exercise.

 12 benefits of moving through sadness:

  1. Intensified empathy.
  2. Enhanced connection. We connect around frailty and vulnerability. Publicly share your story after you move through sadness.
  3. Increased humility.
  4. Strengthened gentleness.
  5. Magnified grit.
  6. Elevated maturity.
  7. Distilled friendships. Those who move with you through sadness, love you.
  8. Opened hearts and minds.
  9. Expanded insight into others.
  10. Heightened quietness, reflection, and calmness of spirit.
  11. Fortified integrity.
  12. Multiplied impact. Lessons learned in sadness multiply your ability to serve others.


Don’t expect others to solve your sadness.

Don’t share your sadness with everyone. Some can’t bear it. Others, disrespect you for it.

How might leaders deal with sadness?

What has sadness taught you?