Though trauma survivors sometimes emerge as leaders in prosocial causes related to their previous negative or traumatic experiences, little is known about this transition, and limited guidance is available for survivors who hope to make prosocial contributions. To understand what enables trauma-inspired prosocial leadership development, the transition narratives of seven trauma-inspired leaders who varied by global region, primary language, gender, ethnicity, religion, trauma type, and leadership area were analyzed. Using interpretative phenomenological analysis in an exploratory study, participants’ transitional journeys were examined through analysis of their autobiographies. Critical findings included frequent references by all participants to perspective enlargement (reframing a problem or context) and resilience to the negative, apathetic, or retaliatory responses to the mission (possibly learned through resilience to trauma itself). This study explores posttraumatic leadership conceptually and makes suggestions for leadership development among trauma-inspired survivors.

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© 2015 Association of Leadership Educators

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