Exploring Resilience: in the Face of Trauma
Received: 12 February 2018 /Accepted: 22 May 2018
Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018
Abstract What exactly is that quality of resilience that carries people, organizations, and
communities through traumatic times? As a construct, resilience is built on the underlying
assumption that an individual or organization has undergone a situation of ‘significant adver-
sity’ and has adapted positively, returning to or increasing in performance and psychological
wellbeing (Riolli and Savicki Omega, 31(3): 227–233, 2003; Sutcliffe and Vogus 2003).
Definitions of resilience range on a continuum from survival to adaptation to competence to
healing to hardiness to robustness to wellness (Werner American Psychological Society 81–85,
1995; Masten and Coatsworth American Psychologist, 53(2): 205–220, 1998;Lutharetal.
Child Development, 71(3): 573–575, 2000;CoutuHarvard Business Review, 80(5): 46–52,
2002;Maddi2002). Resilience is an important quality for leaders who are committed to the
health of organizations. Organizational health is negatively impacted by organizational trauma;
parallel to individuals’ experiences, group and organizational cultures and dynamics are
wounded by trauma. While leaders cannot always protect organizations from trauma, leaders
can strengthen resilience, recognize when trauma occurs, address the trauma effectively, and
protect the system from spiraling into traumatization (Vivian and Hormann O.D. Practitioner,
34(4): 52–57, 2002). This paper offers recommendations for addressing organizational trauma
as well as strengthening resilience, individually and collectively. Stories are shared from several
organizations, demonstrating the importance of leadership and resilience in the face of trauma.
Keywords Organizational trauma
What Exactly Is that Quality of Resilience that Carries People through Life?
Psychologist Norman Garmezy began asking this question over 40 years ago with regard to
children of schizophrenic parents. While many children that he studied suffered psychological
Humanist Manag J
* Shana Hormann
Antioch University Seattle, 2400 3rd Street, Suite 200, Seattle, WA 98121, USA