By dint of McNulty’s force of personality or indefatigability, Mirabella stopped fighting his coach’s efforts to toughen him up. To all outward appearances, Mirabella began acting like the assertive executive he wasn’t. Once McNulty saw Mirabella’s behavior change, he told the CEO that Mirabella was now up to the job. But within a week of ending his meetings with McNulty, Mirabella became severely depressed. At that point, he turned to me for help.
Even when coaches adopt a more empirically validated approach than McNulty did, they still tend to fall into the trap of treating the symptoms rather than the disorder. That’s because they typically derive their treatments from behavioral psychology. Of course, behaviorism has been a great boon to psychiatry in recent years. Findings from this discipline have helped people enormously in controlling specific behaviors and learning to cope in particular situations. But treatments derived from behavioral psychology are sometimes too limited to address the problems that disrupt executives’ ability to function.