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Organizational Chronic Stress and Leadership Trauma

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

We often think of trauma as something that’s happened to us in the past, but trauma can also impact how we think of the present and the future—and it can also be happening right now.

As a leader (even a trauma-informed leader), you may be struggling due to trauma at work due to chronic stress.

Check out this article by Arzhang Kamarei. In it, he explores Leadership Trauma, a new branch of chronic trauma that affects leaders.

What makes leadership trauma unique?

Leadership trauma is distinct from how we typically view trauma. Rather than experiencing crippling flashbacks, those who suffer from leadership trauma often struggle with flash-forwards.

In these “glimpses” of the future, a leader often experiences extreme worry and panic surrounding their personal and professional life. They may often think of catastrophic failures or constantly worry about their inability to maintain a work-life balance.

Many times, organizational leaders suffer from chronic stress due to:

· financial difficulties within their organization

· challenging situations in which there may not be a “right” solution

· lack of clarity in decision-making

· unethical behaviors or business practices

· other situations that cause extreme fear or stress

· excessive feelings of overwhelm or shame

As an organizational leader, you might feel the weight of the world on your shoulders, and that burden could be weighing you down.

Navigating leadership trauma and chronic stress

Chronic trauma is often the result of repeated exposure to extremely stressful events—if that sounds familiar to you, your work life may be stressing you out too much.

Interestingly enough, people who survive chronic trauma in their childhoods often make the best organizational leaders—because trauma survivors tend to experience resilience through Post-Traumatic Growth and cultivate an enormous sense of compassion and sensitivity.

Addressing chronic stress through a trauma-informed lens

If you liked this blog on chronic leadership stress, stay tuned for the next one, where I dive deeper into how you can overcome leadership trauma and cope with chronic stress at work.

And if you want more insights into trauma-informed leadership, consider booking a seat in my Trauma-Informed Masterclass, where I’ll teach you how to change organizational outcomes with a trauma-informed lens.


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