Inside Disruption Blog

Disruption is endlessly creative

Jeff Gorter
February 22, 2017

Disruption is endlessly creative. Although the disruptive events with which we assist predominantly fall into three main categories – unexpected employee death, robbery, and downsizing – we have been seeing an increasing number of events that fall well outside the usual incident types, what could be called atypical events. Some have been driven by political developments, as we’ve received numerous requests to support various organizations during the recent election and subsequent inauguration. Some incidents have been related to larger societal issues, such as the civil unrest and demonstrations in Ferguson and Baltimore. Some have been driven by the increase in mass shootings, the so-called “lone wolf terrorist” acting out of radical motives, as we saw in Charlotte and Orlando. The common element in these very disparate events is the high level of disruption they bring to the workplace. Intense emotions of anxiety, fear or anger can understandably grip a workgroup, a company, or a community and present unique challenges for business leaders charged with restoring calm in the midst of chaos.


At R3 Continuum, we do our best to gather vital information at intake in order to strategize and shape a successful intervention, while our DEM consultants are specially trained to deliver compassionate care to help restore emotional equilibrium and operational effectiveness to any workgroup. But we recognize that ultimately it is the organizational leader that has the most influence in the recovery process. All eyes are on you, and what you do in the immediate aftermath – and how you react – can have a profound impact on the trajectory moving forward.


While the tendency is to try and reassert control over the external circumstances, many business leaders have discovered that regaining internal control is an essential first step. This simply means maintaining self-awareness of their own reactions and being very intentional in their response, that is, their attitude and affect. Being sensitive to this dynamic frees you from being “stuck” in an expectation of what wasn’t supposed to happen (shock), and allows you to engage with what has happened (action). This heightened mindfulness positions you to lead by emotional example. This allows you to influence the emotional resonance, that tendency for emotions to sync up with the prevailing affect in the environment. The most basic example of this is when a toddler falls and quickly looks to its parent. The look on the parent’s face often determines what the toddler does next. Does he pick himself up or dissolve into tears? So it is with crisis. If I as a responder or as a business leader project a sense of calm in the midst of chaos – even if things are unclear or have changed – I can inspire confidence and convey competence, qualities which go a long way towards bringing things back into control. Your emotional presentation can make a huge difference between inviting them into your calm or joining them in their chaos.

Jeff Gorter, MSW

VP, Crisis Response Clinical Services

Jeff Gorter, MSW, is VP, Crisis Response Clinical Services for R3 Continuum. Mr. Gorter brings over 29 years of clinical experience including consultation and extensive on-site critical incident response to businesses and communities. He has responded directly to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina, the Virginia Tech shootings, the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill, the earthquake/tsunami in Japan, and the Newtown Tragedy,Orlando Tragedy, and Las Vegas Tragedy. He has conducted trainings and presented at the American Psychological Association Annual Conference, the World Conference on Disaster Management, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies Annual Meeting, Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA) Annual World Conference and at other state and national venues on a variety of topics. Mr. Gorter also currently serves as an adjunct faculty member at Western Michigan University in the MSW Graduate Program.