Much research shows that such capacities are essential personal strengths; certainly important to effective senior leadership. Moreover, studies find that you can grow them with conscious effort. The emotionally detached, un-empathic person, unaware of his or her personal motives or truths is not going to be very effective as a CEO or senior leader. We see examples of the consequences from time-to-time, when a CEO resigns or is fired.
Sports psychology is a hybrid field in which scientific theories about human perception, memory and motivation are applied in physiological contexts including biomechanics and kinesiology. As with other psychological fields of study, extensive education and training is required, usually including a doctoral degree and several years of postgraduate training.
At an even more basic level, many executives simply benefit from receiving any feedback at all. "As individuals advance to the executive level, development feedback becomes increasingly important, more infrequent, and more unreliable," notes Anna Maravelas, a St. Paul, Minnesota-based executive coach and founder of TheraRising. As a result, she says, "Many executives plateau in critical interpersonal and leadership skills."
Careers in sports psychology cover a range of areas. Sports psychologists may practice in a hospital, clinic, gym, physical rehabilitation center, high school or university. Some may work in private practice or provide contracted consulting services to clients in other settings. Professionals in this area are often employed as part of a team of specialists, assembled from a variety of disciplines to maximize health and wellness among athletes, coaches, teams, parents of athletes, fitness professionals and more. Whatever the nature of their practice, sports psychologists should possess the following skills and competencies:
Being able to see, understand and deal effectively with others’ perspectives is key to successful leadership (as well as personal life). That capacity, part of self-awareness, is empathy. Two recent studies show its crucial role. One looked at the impact of power in an organization upon behavior; the other, its impact upon brain activity. Both studies found that increased power reduces empathy.
Motivational climate refers to the situational and environmental factors that influence individuals' goals. The two major types of motivational climates coaches can create are task-oriented and ego-oriented. While winning is the overall goal of sports competitions regardless of the motivational climate, a task-orientation emphasizes building skill, improvement, giving complete effort, and mastering the task at hand (i.e., self-referenced goals), while an ego-orientation emphasizes demonstrating superior ability, competition, and does not promote effort or individual improvement (i.e., other-referenced goals). Effective coaching practices explore the best ways coaches can lead and teach their athletes. For examples, researchers may study the most effective methods for giving feedback, rewarding and reinforcing behavior, communicating, and avoiding self-fulfilling prophecies in their athletes.
Mark Hall, a professional hypnotherapist and licensed social worker, was well aware of that, of course. He quit smoking many years ago himself—he says he still remembers reaching for a phantom lighter that wasn't in his pocket—and he has been holding sessions like these for more than 20 years, aimed at convincing others that they can do it themselves. Typically his hypnotherapy sessions cost around $150, or $95 with insurance coverage, but this event, sponsored by the Sanborn Foundation for the Treatment and Cure of Cancer, was near my home, and open and free to the public. In other words, there was no reason not to go, except, perhaps, a question that had been frightening me all week as the meeting approached: What if it doesn't work? Or, maybe even worse: What if it actually does? Then what the hell am I going to do? As crazy as it sounds, smoking is such a major part of my daily routine, the prospect of losing it is scary.
As Finkle notes, this doesn't mean that company goals aren't supported by coaching—indeed, the coach was most likely hired by the company to support the executive's efforts to achieve those goals. Even so, the role of the coach is not to represent specific company needs or interests. "The perspectives they provide, the alternatives discussed, and everything else has no agenda except to support the coachee," she says.
“Volunteers are driven by completely different motives than employees are,” Denburg explained. “I had a habit of rolling in and expecting people to keep up and jump into action. With this job, I had to learn to be more intentional about setting the stage to engage people.” She made the shift from leading through accountability and authority to leading through influence.
Take Jennifer Mansfield, vice president of training and development at a large software manufacturer. An acknowledged workaholic, Mansfield had followed a traditional path within her corporation, rising through the ranks by fulfilling every assignment with stellar results. When she was promoted to a managerial position, however, Mansfield’s self-confidence began to slip. As a boss, she found it hard to delegate. Accustomed to delivering 110%, she was loath to cede control to her direct reports. She also found it impossible to give negative feedback. As a consequence, her work and that of her subordinates started to suffer, and she was missing deadlines.
McGrail believes that the approach Margaret took should work for most people: “It uses the power of the mind to change the behavior, and it is the mind that creates the addiction to smoking 10, 20, or 30 cigarettes a day. In hypnosis, we’re using that same power, much like a computer, to make those changes.” McGrail finds out what he needs to know about the person’s relationship with tobacco: history, triggers, and motivations for stopping. “The suggestions I give while I verbally guide them through their program make them start thinking about smoking as something they don’t want — or have — to do,” he explains. Instead, they can choose appropriate outlets for the energy they once devoted to smoking. For example, Jonathan, a 34-year-old database manager from Atlanta who’d smoked for 16 years when he decided to quit with the help of a $1.99 app on his iPhone, washed his clothes — even when they were clean — instead of lighting up. He also performed breathing exercises when he was tempted. A little silly, sure, but infinitely better for him than a pack of Parliaments.
Skill most commonly used to help individuals who experience arousal at a level that is not effective (i.e., too high or too low) for optimal performance. These techniques can be used for anxiety, stress, and anger management. Common treatments include: (a) breathing exercises (e.g., diaphragmatic breathing, rhythmic breathing), (b) progressive relaxation, (c) meditation, (d) imagery or visualization, and (d) cognitive techniques (e.g., thought stopping and cognitive restructuring).
In the 1950s, Milton H. Erickson developed a radically different approach to hypnotism, which has subsequently become known as "Ericksonian hypnotherapy" or "Neo-Ericksonian hypnotherapy." Erickson made use of an informal conversational approach with many clients and complex language patterns, and therapeutic strategies. This divergence from tradition led some of his colleagues, including Andre Weitzenhoffer, to dispute whether Erickson was right to label his approach "hypnosis" at all.