After the Webinar: Cultivating Wellness in Your Organization. Q&A with Darren Ivey

Webinar presenter Darren Ivey answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Cultivating Wellness in Your Organization: Trauma-Informed Leadership and Other Helpful Ideas. Here are just a few of his responses.


Audience Question: What is the name of that article, The trauma-informed nursing leadership article that you mentioned? And what was the author’s name? 

Darren Ivey: It’s called Trauma-informed leadership and posttraumatic growth. The author’s name and she’s a registered nurse, her name is Mary Koloroutis, and it was co-authored by Michelle Pole, who is a Ph.D.


Audience Question: How do you protect staff when there are multiple leadership styles within management? Any suggestions? 

Darren Ivey:  Yeah. So, the response  I can give to you, and I know this is very generic, but just be willing to take the brunt of all those leadership styles, that they’re going to be exposed to themselves. You are their supervisor. They’re your staff. Take the brunt for them. You know your boss is an authoritarian, tell your boss, “Hey, things come to me, please?” You have to have some very courageous conversations with your bosses, and say, “Look, I’m trying to accomplish something here, if you’re mad at Darren, then you can be mad at me, and I’ll take care of it, but don’t worry about Daren, it’ll be addressed.” So, that’s the best advice I can give you, because you’re right unless you are the top dog, you are going to have all these other ones still having influence. But if they see you and your leadership style, hopefully, they’ll start adapting to something more like that, as well. And that they have to be exposed to it. Unless you’re in the medical world, and even then, it’s a relatively new term that I’ve seen, I haven’t found anywhere else, until recently. You’re going to have to expose them to what trauma and resilient leadership actually look like.


Audience Question: Do you think that the accepted leadership styles will just naturally evolve and shift into more of the servant-slash-transformational style as older, more authoritarian leaders retire? Or are you thinking that the fingerprints of those authoritarian leaders will continue to linger on our organizations? 

Darren Ivey:  I’m a very optimistic person but I’m going to be a realist here. And I think these career fields that we’ve chosen. You’re going to always see that fingerprint, that DNA is so deep and so inbred that I don’t think we’ll ever lose it. So, my goal is that will actually, be like a genealogy report. Before you were 70% authoritarian, 20% transactional, and 5% trauma-informed. But hopefully what we’ll do to our new generations as we’re training is we’ll see, maybe only 10% of authoritarian type, 5% transactional, and we have more towards the other side. Keep in mind, that you do need authoritarian leadership, that style has to be present in the criminal justice world, because of what we’re faced with, it just cannot be prevalent every day. So, I think it’ll always be there. Let’s see if we can make it less, and less, and less, and only when needed.


Audience Question: How do we help our first-line supervisors evolve to respond with empathy and understanding to new employees who are reacting to the traumatic events they’ve seen for the very first time? 

Darren Ivey:  Education, number one is education. This is so new. I’ve been doing it for 8 or 9 years now, and by nowhere the first person to do that, so it’s been around for a while. But it amazes me how I have taught  5- 6000 people now, and how I can go into an organization, even an organization I teach on an annual basis, and people still don’t have a clue on what I’m talking about until I talk about it. So, this is not going to be a one-and-done thing. We have got to, the moment, our people are selected for promotion. It needs to be incorporated into their leadership trainings and preferably even before that. Because if you asked me, it should be part of the selection process for supervision. If you’re doing a process as a new supervisor in the position, active listening, compassion, and empathy are all components that should be evaluated. And going forward, —— as we’re hiring people, I think those need to be key attributes that we’re looking for in our people because that way, it’s easier as they become supervisors to demonstrate that. So, to get back to your question, how do you do that now? You just have to expose them to as much of this information and really get their buy-in. And by sharing real stories, you can get their buy-in. The real stories connected with data, it’s how you, I’ve noticed, get buy-in on this type of information in this career field.


Audience Question: You talked about having a plan. Can it be a full-blown 3-year 5-year plan, or can it be done in smaller chunks, maybe just pieces at a time to see if anything works or the troops respond to it? Which approach is probably better? 

Darren Ivey: You’re talking about the self-care plan. Remember, that’s not the troops that’s you. But, if you’re asking for your troops, how you would do it? For the wellness program plan, I would start small, very small, And I would start with, nformation. So, the mental health trainings, I talked about, getting that information out, that should be part one of your plan, and you can have a 2 to 3-year plan. Just have it as a fallback, right? I mean, as your chief. I’m going to want to know what your next step is, “That sounds great, but what happens if this is successful?” “Well, boss, glad you asked, because here’s what happens. We’re going to try this if it’s successful, and if that doesn’t work, we’re going to try this.” I would have multiple layers of your plan ready to go but don’t worry about trying to build so far out that you don’t get anything done. Start with the easy, low-hanging fruit, which, to me, is mental health training and bringing awareness to your organization.


Audience Question: How long do we need to do the wellness activities in order to reduce sick time, improve retention, etc.?

Darren Ivey:  That’s going to be a hard one to prove. Because what it looks like now is if somebody is undergoing a lot of trauma, and we don’t recognize that because I say we’re still looking at things through a non-trauma-informed lens. And we don’t recognize that maybe Darren’s taking off sick three days a week, because of what’s gone on for the last six months. It’s going to take a while to reverse that, right? So, I mean, it’s probably going to take several years, till you’re going to see a big, big downturn of it. But you’re not going to really know until you just lay the groundwork first and see what it looks like now. And I would —– every six months, I’d be looking at it, are you seeing an impact? And then if you’re not seeing an impact, I would keep on going, because I don’t think you’re going to see an immediate impact. There are too many things that play into retention and sick time usage than just being traumatized or too much stress.


Audience Question: How do you take care of yourself while trying to change the culture of the organization? And Darren, I think you even kind of intimated in your presentation that it’s not easy all the time. 

Darren Ivey:  No, it’s not. And I wish I had time to do a tool with you called a balance wheel that I do, and it is a great tool. Very simple steps will show you where you are putting all your energy and effort towards. And what you’re going to find is, it’s mostly towards serving others and towards your job, and very little for yourself. And how easy it is just to take a little bit of time  (two minutes,  five minutes,  30 minutes) away from your job, and redirect it towards self-care. It just takes a conscious and active thought and plan, which is where the self-care plans come into play. And I know, Chris, we don’t have any time for many more questions. So, you have my, e-mail information, feel free to reach out to me with your questions, And if you want more information on that balance wheel, I’ll be happy to send it to you. It’s very simple and easy to do.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of Cultivating Wellness in Your Organization: Trauma-Informed Leadership and Other Helpful Ideas


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