"Sometimes life becomes too difficult to battle on our own. Together, we can explore what events or relationships may be causing distress in your life and develop tools and skills to overcome these hardships. I strive to provide a warm and comforting therapeutic environment and convey empathy and understanding to allow my clients to feel safe and validated during our sessions. You are here, which means you've taken that first big step and I am here to help you through the rest of the therapeutic journey."
Over the past 15 years, it has become more and more popular to hire coaches for promising executives. Although some of these coaches hail from the world of psychology, a greater share are former athletes, lawyers, business academics, and consultants. No doubt these people help executives improve their performance in many areas. But I want to tell a different story. I believe that in an alarming number of situations, executive coaches who lack rigorous psychological training do more harm than good. By dint of their backgrounds and biases, they downplay or simply ignore deep-seated psychological problems they don’t understand. Even more concerning, when an executive’s problems stem from undetected or ignored psychological difficulties, coaching can actually make a bad situation worse. In my view, the solution most often lies in addressing unconscious conflict when the symptoms plaguing an executive are stubborn or severe.
So we try to make athletes understand that there is a process to their sport, and that it is more important early on to get the process right than to worry about the result. Then, as the athletes get better and reach higher levels of competition, we put as much importance on the process as on the result. The hope is that the emphasis on the process will buffer the athlete from a bad loss. As long as they know that they performed to their best, they are more accepting of the result.
Psychiatric research is produced in vast quantities today, but we remain far from the answers we are seeking. Although promising leads exist, the fact remains that the field has not reached a consensus on the biological etiology of any mental illness. Similarly, there are fewer clearly defined treatment algorithms in psychiatry than in other medical specialties.
In today’s demanding business environment (cost pressures leading to flatter organizations, executive managers with more direct reports, “speed to market” as a competitive advantage with time pressure, etc.) executives have limited opportunity to devote time and energy to their own development as leaders. “Most executives struggle to fulfill the responsibilities of their positions and are too busy and too stressed to step back and learn from their experiences or to implement changes to satisfy best management practices.”
I find it extremely rewarding to be able to make a difference in people’s lives, not just in the quality of their performances, but also in their life satisfaction and overall well-being. When athletes are able to see the fruit of their work in developing performance skills and reducing performance barriers, it is rewarding to have been a part of that process.
"Coaching has evolved into the mainstream fast," says Michael Goldberg, president of Building Blocks Consulting (Manalapan, New Jersey), whose clients include New York Life and MetLife. "This is because there is a great demand in the workplace for immediate results, and coaching can help provide that." How? By providing feedback and guidance in real time, says Brian Underhill, a senior consultant at the Alliance for Strategic Leadership (Morgan Hill, California). "Coaching develops leaders in the context of their current jobs, without removing them from their day-to-day responsibilities."
Take Rich Garvin, the CEO of an athletic shoe manufacturing company with sales in excess of $100 million a year. Despite his company’s size, Garvin had never hired a coach for any of his direct reports. He knew that his HR director used trainers and coaches, but Garvin was a finance guy first and foremost. And since the athletic shoe industry was flying high, he left personnel matters to those who were paid to worry about them. But in the late 1990s, the market for athletic shoes collapsed. In Garvin’s world, the most immediate casualty was his COO, who snapped under the strain of failing to meet sales estimates for three consecutive quarters. The COO began venting his frustration on store managers, buyers, and suppliers.
In 1974, Theodore X. Barber and his colleagues published a review of the research which argued, following the earlier social psychology of Theodore R. Sarbin, that hypnotism was better understood not as a "special state" but as the result of normal psychological variables, such as active imagination, expectation, appropriate attitudes, and motivation. Barber introduced the term "cognitive-behavioral" to describe the nonstate theory of hypnotism, and discussed its application to behavior therapy.