Post-traumatic Growth for Leaders

Building Resiliency through the Awareness of Change Research lists five dimensions that encompass PTG: personal strength, relationships; appreciation for life; the realization of new possibilities; and changes to spirituality. With a specific focus on improvement and momentum, these dimensions can help leaders develop effective behaviors to foster successful adaptation. Research has revealed the contribution of many years of thoughtful research in addressing post-traumatic growth; individuals with post-traumatic growth (PTG) are less likely to screen for depression or other disorders. Post-traumatic growth (PTG) is defined as having a positive change following a traumatic event. A traumatic event like the COVID-19 pandemic provides a catalyst for people to reevaluate the world's view and, in particular, their own life. Research lists five dimensions that encompass PTG: personal strength, relationships; appreciation for life; the realization of new possibilities; and changes to spirituality. With a specific focus on improvement and momentum, these dimensions can help leaders develop effective behaviors to foster successful adaptation. This article focuses on the internal growth one can experience; however, physical trauma, which directly impacts the body, can also positively affect behavior changes and increased care. The five dimensions that encompass PTG are also aligned to mindfulness in improving the condition that would allow for growth. The phenomenon of mindfulness is the awareness of self and the external environment and acting without judgment as you experience the moment. Research has shown that mindfulness is a great facilitator of inner awareness as it provides a direct pathway towards making meaningful change. Find Meaning in the Experience. American psychologist, Harvard Professor, and author of Flourish, Martin Seligman, has stated in a recent interview that most people are resilient and find their way through a difficult period in their life. Seligman goes on to say, however, within a short period, one or two months later, are back into the same psychological state. Others move towards a period of growth after dealing with post-traumatic disorders, like anxiety and depression. What these individuals experience is positive growth post the traumatic experience. They experienced growth not because they dismissed the disorder, which is a typical emotional experience that should be explored; instead, they had resiliency with meaning to move forward. When One Door Closes, Another Door Opens It is entirely normal to feel down and experience a range of emotions immediately after a moment or a series of events. Those emotions need to be explored and recognized; that is why they exist to reconcile the moments experienced. One of the essential things that Seligman states about post-traumatic growth is to prepare yourself for the door that is opening when an event closes the door behind you. The growth from a difficult experience could be a factor in leading towards new possibilities. In other words, take advantage of the change that is occurring in your life. Improve your condition rather than take the downward spiral beyond the short period of grief. As Seligman has stated, shifting from the disorder of anxiety and depression towards having meaningful growth, having meaningful relationships, providing supportive feedback and encouragement plays a vital role in providing support towards helping make that change in mind. Now more than ever is the importance of providing supportive communication to combat the impact of COVID-19 on people's well-being. Appreciation of Life The proposed construct for post-traumatic growth provides an opportunity to learn ways to cope with meaning. Having meaning in one's life is an essential element of well-being and can improve overall health. Having meaning, aligned to your goals with a sense of understanding of the environment, could create positive emotions after the traumatic event and even restored energy. Shifting Your Mindset Towards Positive Growth Post-traumatic growth could also provide that needed buffer for future trauma and accelerate recovery for future growth, indicating further resiliency. Research also shows that leaders can help influence employees' well-being and shift their mindset on how they perceive stress and anxiety in life and the workplace. Coaching and leadership development programs across the spectrum should look for ways to incorporate specific behavioral training that encourages positive adjustments to stress and trauma, accelerating post-traumatic growth.