Trauma-Informed Leadership

The Expert Talk: Trauma-Informed Leadership – How to make your team feel safe and supported

Trauma-Informed Leadership – How to make your team feel safe and supported

by Kimberly Van Ryn as featured on The Expert Talk

As we head towards closing out 2023 in a few short months it is no secret that the workplace doesn’t quite look or feel the same as it did not so long ago. One of the things we are noticing is a deep uncertainty and continuing fear. An uncertainty and fear that we all sense is a bit different than it was before and leaders are starting to ask a genuine and astute question: what are we going to do about it? How can we better support our employees, teams, and colleagues when we are seeing high levels of stress and burnout, mental health needs rising, and interpersonal struggles at work.

Enter, trauma-informed leadership.

What?! I can feel the air suck out of the room a little bit with the T-word (Trauma) showing up right out of the gate. I’d like to assure you that learning about this topic is not only supportive to you and the people you work with, but its main goal is to cause no more harm. Instead, this set of ideas and practices creates space and support across environments to promote functionality on teams, creativity among co-workers, and more safety, capacity and comfort at work.

Take one big deep breath, let your shoulders melt down away from your ears – we’ve got this.

For the definition of trauma, we turn to the person who first made it most understandable for us. Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk explains it like this: “Basically, trauma is something that happens to you that makes you so upset that it overwhelms you. And there is nothing you can do to stave off the inevitable. You basically collapse in a state of confusion, maybe rage, because you are unable to function in the face of this particular threat. But the trauma is not the event that happens, the trauma is how you respond to it.”