5 Essential Actions Disruptive Leaders Take in Traumatic Situations

Sunday we commemorate the September 11 terrorist attacks that took the lives of over 3000 people and shattered the lives of thousands more.  The entire country has been shaped by the events of that tragic day.

How can we as leaders disrupt that trauma?  How can we step forward and help others change their lives radically, helping in the healing process?  


Every day leaders and managers within business are faced with  that question because people suffer trauma every  day in offices around the world.  Unfortunately most leaders and managers are not sure what to do – so they do nothing or the wrong thing.  

roi-compassionMy wife and I co-authored The R.O.I. of Compassion after our world was turned upside down with the loss of my son.  In those days where death filled the air, we noticed what made the most difference to us.  We also noticed how our situation was similar to but different from other traumatic situations.  Then we noticed how it impacted my son’s workplace.  So with my wife’s expertise as a Human Resources manager and mine as a leadership power consultant, we  examined the research and interviewed companies across the country by asking them how they approached traumatic situations.  We soon found a sequence that every successful leader, manager and organization followed that helped individuals recover sooner and adapt to the new normal that trauma brings.  We found that organizations recovered quicker when managers and leaders positively disrupted the situation, unleashing the ultimate performance, production and profits by being compassionate.  

As we remember the 9-11 attacks, use the five steps of our Murfield Model of Compassion with those who are struggling  with the aftermath of trauma.

First:  Notice

It sounds obvious but one that many managers ignore.  Take time to notice what is happening with your team members.  Notice any breaks in their behaviors, attitude, communication and relationships.  While we never want to stalk our team, we do need to take the time to notice who they are and when they change suddenly.

Take a brave action – notice each team member for who they are and when they change suddenly.  

Second:  Feel

The old Industrial Model of Business believed the workplace was no place for emotion.  Fortunately we know now that was very unproductive and a leading cause of why 72% are disengaged – their managers and leaders do not care.  Without that empathy, there is no relationship and that creates a problem because the Sharing Economy is built on relationships.  But when we do care, we begin leveraging our power to make a quantum leap over seemingly impossible situations.

Take the bold action – feel their pain.  

Third:  Think

Some models of compassion leap immediately from feeling to action.  We disagree because we have seen far too many make the situation worse because they leaped into action that they thought would make the situation better.  Take the time to think of what that person wants and needs at that moment that will make it better.  Notice  I didn’t say make it right or good.  Often times in trauma, we cannot solve the problem but we can make it just a little better.

Take the decisive action – think before you act.

Fourth:  Act

Empathy + Action = Compassion

That is the formula.  Notice that if you have empathy but don’t take action, all you have is your own feelings.  I would argue that is simply sympathy, not empathy.  The difference is that sympathy is a one sided, self-focused feeling.  Compassion is having so much empathy  for the other person that we come alongside of them in their pain and take whatever action is necessary help alleviate it.  Every situation is different and requires  a different action to alleviate their pain and help them take the next step to the new normal. But don’t take too much time thinking because they need something right now.

Take the disruptive action – now!

Fifth:  Remember

The pain subsides over time but the memories won’t fade.  As a leader or manager, one memory you don’t want to let fade is that you and the rest of the team care about that team member experiencing trauma.  Compassionate teams create a close knit organizational culture that engages employees and unleashes the ultimate performance, production and profits.  (Yes, I used that phrase again so you will remember it.)

Take the lingering action – make a note to help you remember.

When we follow these steps, we help our team members not only alleviate their pain but we also help them recover sooner and become an engaged and productive worker.  We do it all for the right reason, but there is a great Return on Investment for compassion in the workplace.

For more information on how you can disrupt trauma with compassion, check out The R.O.I. of Compassion.  

Be Bold

Be Decisive

Become the Disruptive Leader

I am Dr. Loren Murfield and I work with aspiring and emerging leaders to develop their ability to disrupt situations, markets and industries.  If you are frustrated with your past success or looking to better leverage your power in the Connection Economy,  contact me today.  nsa-logo

Checkout my online leadership platform.  Power University

Do you want to write a blog, white paper or book?  I can help.  Contact me.  

Like this post.
Share this post on your social media.
Follow me on twitter @theOpProf

(c) Murfield International, Inc.  2016

One thought on “5 Essential Actions Disruptive Leaders Take in Traumatic Situations

Leave a Reply