The first responder career field is one that is more likely to be exposed to trauma compared to other professions. Without tools and guidance on how to navigate these traumatic incidents, first responders experience adverse outcomes that impact them professionally and personally and may even last throughout their lifetimes. This session explores the role leaders play in cultivating a culture of wellness in organizations.
Leading the discussion is Retired Major Darren Ivey. He has almost four decades working in police and military service. He served in the Kansas City Police Department for 20 years where he spent his last six years as the Department’s Crisis Intervention Team Commander, and developed the training program “Building Resilience: Surviving Secondary Trauma”.
Specifics of this presentation include:
- The prevalence of trauma in the first responder profession.
- An overview of the different leadership styles Darren was exposed to and adopted throughout his career, and the characteristics, benefits and drawbacks of each.
- The value of being a trauma-informed and resilient leader in terms of cultivating a healthier workforce, addressing recruitment and retention challenges, and spreading awareness on trauma’s impact on the individual- and organization-level.
- The attributes of trauma-informed and resilient leaders.
- Recognizes the struggles that people go through due to trauma – in childhood and adulthood – which drives them to respond with empathy and compassion.
- Are visible and leads from the front allowing them to fully understand the staff’s need to be heard, protected, prepared, supported, cared for, and honored.
- Understands the importance of being present for their team and themselves and demonstrates this through the practice of attuning, wondering, following, and holding.
- Prioritizes self-care to effectively lead and support others and espouses others to do the same.
- Encourages talking about feelings and emotions and normalizes reaching out for help to manage these appropriately.
- How Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) translate into negative health outcomes later in life.
- How to ensure that employees are heard, protected, prepared, supported, cared for, and honored.
- What does the practice of attuning, wondering, following, and holding skills look like when interacting with the people we work with and ourselves.
- The four domains of personal resilience and examples of what self-care looks like for each of these.
- What a self-care plan looks like, the importance of starting with the why, and how to effectively follow through with one’s self-care plan.
- Wellness program ideas worth integrating into first responder organizations to provide different levels of support based on the employee’s needs.
- The value of extending wellness resources to employees’ families as well as retirees.
- The components of having a plan, presenting the benefits, finding champions, and doing outreach that must be present to get leadership buy-in when implementing wellness programming.
Questions from the webinar participants are about:
- Resources mentioned in the webinar.
- Protecting staff from different leadership styles in the chain of command.
- How leadership styles will probably evolve and whether there’s still value to the authoritarian leadership style at present.
- Getting supervisors to respond with empathy to new employees reacting to traumatic events.
- The planning needed to implement wellness programs.
- The length of time wellness initiatives must be done before the desired results on absenteeism, retention, and employee satisfaction, among others are seen.
- Taking care of one’s self while working on improving the organizational culture.
Resources and Handouts
- Handout: Daily Self-Care Plan
- Handout: Weekly Self-Care Plan
- Handout: Monthly Self-Care Plan
- Handout: Self-Care Plan Example
- Resource Mentioned: Trauma Informed Leadership and Post Traumatic Growth by Koloroutis and Pole
- “I loved hearing from a trauma-informed police officer.” — Bailey
- “The value of talking about trauma in the place without fear of consequence, and a trauma-sensitive leader can recognize opportunities for their staff to feel safe to express, learn and grow from and through their trauma experiences.” — Crystal
- “It was valuable to explore what attributes a trauma-informed leader should possess as well as what areas need to be addressed for a program to make an impact on its workers. I also appreciated the sharing of resources and literature. There should be standard mandatory on-going training required for anyone in a leadership position of this nature.” — Debra
- “Trauma-informed leadership as a leadership style. Have used it in the past, but wasn’t aware of the characteristics or that there was even a name for it!” — Toye
- “So much great information. The resources Darren provided will be helpful to look up later for continued self-learning. Thank you!” — Jessica
- “I found all of it valuable, but a takeaway for me was the importance of being visible and the six points that go with that.” — Julie
- “I just started with my new supervision role, overseeing our domestic violence advocates. I appreciate getting tips and my questions answered from Darren. It has really inspired me to be courageous and take control of my trauma-informed leadership style. Thank you!” — Maiv Tsua
- “Very good presenter with pertinent information. I liked how he stayed on task and still was able to make the points he needed.” — Mandee