BATESVILLE — Batesville resident Anthony Casablanca co-wrote the book “The Dying Art of Leadership: How Leaders Can Help Grieving Employees Excel at Work” with his brother Guy Casablanca.
According to the Casablanca’s, studies show grief and loss annually costs companies $75 billion in terms of low productivity, employee performance issues and lower morale. Their book, which was released on Friday, Oct. 2, 2020, aims to help bridge this loss gap.
Anthony worked at Hillenbrand Inc. for 31 years, spending 28 years on the Batesville Casket Company side of the business. He spent the last 10 years of his career in senior leadership roles at the company.
“I’m steeped in senior leadership. I’m very fluent and experienced in human resource leadership and, of course being on the deathcare side of the business, I’m very versed in the deathcare world,” Casablanca said.
Guy Casablanca also has much experience in the deathcare field as he is currently leading a funeral home organization in Fort Collins, Colorado. He has also run businesses and is knowledgeable in consulting.
Guy authored the first half of the book, while Anthony wrote the second.
“My brother (Guy) graduated from Cincinnati School of Mortuary Science as a duly licensed funeral director and he has been running funeral operations for years now,” Casablanca said. “His contributions were quite significant, because it sets the stage of why this is important to leaders.”
In the book, Guy begins by explaining the five stages of grief and discusses how funeral service overlaps with leadership. Anthony’s section of the book discusses how leaders can better help employees after they’ve experienced emotional trauma or grief.
With their combined experience, the brothers consider their book to be a one-two-punch of valuable information relating to grief and leadership.
“When you put our experiences together, we’re very well versed in leadership and in facilitating families who are grieving and the deathcare business,” Casablanca said. “It’s a one-two punch. Without Guy’s part of the book, leaders would not understand what this leadership challenge is, because the book would be missing the parts about the stages of grief and all the things that people go through when they are emotionally traumatized.”
A passion to help
The Casablanca brother’s shared passion for helping others led them to author their book and found the consulting firm GriefLeaders LLC.
“It rapidly moved from a project, to a mission, to a passion,” Casablanca said. “This is no longer a project. It is no longer an avenue to a consulting business that we hope goes well. This has become a passion that the only way we can possibly measure our success will be in how many people we help in a difficult time.”
According to Casablanca, in 2017 he and Guy began reading many articles in Harvard Business Review about emotional wellbeing at work and how employees want to talk about emotional health and grief while at work.
The brothers had been looking for a project to work on together for years and saw an opportunity to help others with their combined experience. They began writing their book about three years ago.
“It became clear to myself and my brother that with our experience levels and our skills we could help. All of those articles talked about it, but none of them actually provided tangible guidance to leaders,” Casablanca said. “We are talking about something that costs companies $75 billion a year in lost productivity, according to studies that have been done. No one has addressed the issue from the leadership or company perspective, which is somewhat amazing.”
Casablanca said this issue likely hasn’t been addressed in part because the United States has a culture which denies death. It is also less awkward and much easier to ignore grief related issues in the workplace.
“It’s just easier not to deal with it, but not dealing with it comes with a price of $75 billion a year in losses,” Casablanca said
Casablanca has spoke with people who mentioned they are relieved when able to talk about their struggles at work and can tell their boss they are struggling and need space to get through their time of need.
Below is a description of the book:
Every year, millions of people deal with the death of a loved one, a divorce, a cancer diagnosis or the effects of substance abuse. This year, millions more are dealing with a pandemic, quarantine, job insecurity and rampant turmoil. In companies across America, people are in the grips of grieving—and showing up for work despondent, stressed, angry, depressed, and distracted. No wonder so many companies are experiencing low productivity, performance problems, and dismal employee morale. To complicate matters, the vast majority of managers have limited insight and no formal training in how to lead emotionally traumatized employees while keeping their team, department, or organization operating at its peak.
In “The Dying Art of Leadership: How Leaders Can Help Grieving Employees Excel at Work”, Anthony Casablanca and Guy Casablanca present a groundbreaking and practical guide to tackling one of the most awkward leadership challenges—one that no one likes talking about and isn’t taught in any other leadership programs—to the benefit of all employees and the company. Drawing on their combined expertise in dealing with grief and leadership development, the co-authors offer valuable insights into the emotional state of an employee who returns to work after a loss or tragedy—or an employee who continues to work while dealing with a traumatizing event. What’s more, they provide a framework for leading employees as individuals, with courage and compassion, to not only improve their performance but also inspire their trust, loyalty, and commitment.
The book doesn’t have to be read from cover to cover, though readers may get the most out of it by doing so.
The book is currently sold at Barnes and Noble and can be purchased online at Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Dying-Art-Leadership-Grieving-Employees/dp/1098321170 or online at the BookBaby Bookstore at https://store.bookbaby.com/bookshop/book/index.aspx?bookURL=The-Dying-Art-of-Leadership&b=p_fr-ve-wh.
Both links can be accessed at GriefLeaders.com.
Anthony and Guy Casablanca’s passion to help others also led them to found the consulting firm GriefLeaders LLC.
“The book is awesome and it is a one of a kind thing, but it is really the GriefLeaders training work that we do that really brings all of this to life and makes it real for organizations,” Casablanca said.
According to GriefLeaders’ website, GriefLeaders is a training and consulting organization whose mission is to show leaders how to help grieving employees excel at work, help organizations minimize the effects of grief on the bottom line and facilitate the emotional healing process.
“We are not a leadership training organization that happens to talk about grief. We are a leadership training organization whose sole purpose is to provide leaders with the skill and confidence to engage emotionally traumatized individuals in the workplace,” Casablanca said. “We are the only ones who do that. First you care and then you lead. If you try to do it the other way, you won’t have any followers.”
“We can work anywhere for any organization at any time. You can reach us through our website any time,” Casablanca said. “We will get back in touch with you within a day. That’s our commitment ”
Consultations can be scheduled online at https://griefleaders.com/contact/.
GriefLeaders offers a variety of value delivery models to ensure it can accommodate organizations of any size and learning culture.
“This training is not for everyone. Not every organization is probably ready from a culture standpoint to do this, which is why we do an assessment to start with,” Casablanca said. “The first step in our process is to determine whether or not we can bring value to your organization through our training. The last thing we want is for somebody to be dissatisfied.”
Personal stories of returning to work while grieving can be shared with GriefLeaders at https://griefleaders.com/contact/share-your-return-to-work-grief-story/.
“At the end of the day, we hope that our work is going to change how organizations view their employee’s emotional wellbeing for the better,” Casablanca said. “If we can accomplish that, then we have made a difference. That’s our goal.”