Leading during Organizational Trauma: Purpose, Connections, Strategies

Feb 02, 2022 / 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm


Feb 02, 2022


1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

More Info


Part I: Purpose and Connections

Organizational trauma is a collective experience that overwhelms an organization’s defensive and protective structures and leaves the agency temporarily vulnerable and helpless or permanently damaged. Traumatic events can be sudden, shocking, and throw the organization into turmoil. Organizational traumatization may also result from repeated damaging actions or the deleterious effects of the nature of an organization’s work. Unaddressed organizational trauma — whether sudden or cumulative — causes serious harm and can be catastrophic for organizations. It negatively impacts service delivery, compromises relationships with co-workers, and weakens the organization’s ability to respond to internal and external challenges. Over time the unhealed effects of trauma compromise the organization’s fundamental health.

Leaders are critical during periods of trauma. Parker Palmer (Leading from Within) and others (Kahn, Schein, Vivian and Hormann) have noted that leaders have the power to project onto others their light and their shadows. Leaders must take responsibility for what is going on within themselves so their acts of leadership do not cause harm, and must step up and apologize when they cause harm. (Yes, you will make mistakes.) Leaders who create great harm are often a cause of organizational trauma. We will start by shining light on ourselves and then review cases of leading during organizational trauma.

  • Which staff behaviors do you appreciate? How do you express feedback about the behaviors? Which behaviors “trigger” you or do you find unacceptable and/or unprofessional? How do you express feedback about the behaviors?
  • What has been your experiences of organizational trauma?
  • What helps to mitigate trauma? What exacerbates trauma?

Part II: Strategies

Healing from organizational trauma is a process, and there are steps and tools for effective intervention. Too often, trauma remains undiagnosed, even as it causes burnout, conflict, poor service, and other symptoms of troubled organizations. We will address walking as leaders through organizational trauma and strategies for healing and resolution.

  • Strategies for intervening in a traumatized system
  • Strategies for strengthening organizational resilience
  • Ways to pay attention to what is going on in your organization to avoid pitfalls of unacknowledged traumatization

These webinars are intended for anyone who holds a leadership role at their organization. This could be executive directors, associate directors, program managers, etc. If you have any questions about registration reach out to Leah Poole at [email protected] 

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