Addressing Rising PTSD in Leaders

September 18, 2023

Addressing Rising PTSD in Leaders

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought trauma and stress to individuals worldwide, including leaders. As organizations face unprecedented challenges, it is crucial to acknowledge and support the mental well-being of leaders. The responsibility and pressure on leaders have increased, making it essential to address their trauma and build resilience. By promoting empathy, mental health awareness, and self-care, organizations can ensure that leaders can effectively navigate through these difficult times. Let's explore ways to respond to signs of stress and support leaders experiencing PTSD.

Recognize High Emotional Stakes:

Excessive stress can lead to fatigue, impaired decision-making, and mood swings. In the face of uncertainty, leaders must make clear and thoughtful decisions. However, in many organizations, this is a significant challenge. Look out for leaders who are overly zealous without considering the circumstances. Acknowledge that these are trying times and encourage a more empathetic approach, moving away from a "business as usual" mindset.

Embrace Mistakes as Part of the Human Experience:

Leaders are not immune to the effects of trauma, as they are also humans. The pandemic has pushed us into uncharted territory, and mistakes are bound to happen. Leaders need understanding and empathy to navigate these challenging times successfully. Provide support and allow them to course-correct. Agility and adaptability should be valued, ensuring that leaders have the space to rebound and learn from their mistakes.

Encourage Time Off and Self-Care:

Prioritize self-care and well-being. Leaders often neglect their own needs in the pursuit of work. However, taking time off and disconnecting is crucial for mental health, creativity, and productivity. Corporate boards and senior leaders should advocate for self-care and model these behaviors. Encourage leaders to break up their day, exercise, eat well, and take regular time off to recharge. Stepping away from work allows leaders to reset and return with renewed energy and focus.

Foster Support and Compassion:

The pandemic has taken a toll on everyone, including leaders. Organizations must show support and prioritize self-care throughout the company. Performance measures should be reconsidered in these situations. Instead, focus on how leaders have maintained stability and supported their teams during challenging times. Care and compassion should guide evaluations and conversations. By creating a supportive environment, leaders can feel empowered to take care of themselves while effectively leading their teams.

Addressing rising PTSD in leaders is essential for their well-being and the overall success of organizations. By recognizing the emotional stakes, embracing mistakes as part of the human experience, encouraging time off and self-care, and fostering a supportive environment, leaders can build resilience and navigate through these difficult times. It is crucial for organizations to prioritize mental health, promote empathy, and provide resources for leaders to take care of themselves. Just as in-flight safety instructions advise putting on your own mask first before assisting others, allowing leaders to prioritize their well-being enables them to effectively lead and support their teams.