Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the annual SIOP conference. SIOP is a division of the American Psychological Association and it stands for Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology. That is, it is a preeminent professional association whose mission is to enhance human well-being and performance in organizational and work settings by promoting the science, practice, and teaching of industrial-organizational psychology. And what a conference! Over 5,000 individuals— HR and business leaders, consultants—both internal and external to organizations, professors, grad students, researchers, and more. It was the most diverse group of folks I have seen at a conference in my life…diversity in race, gender, ethnicity, and age were the most obvious.
Two of the core values of SIOP really connected to me and my daily work:
- The importance of psychology to the world of work
- Improving the effectiveness of organizations and the well-being of individuals
These certainly underpin the work I do everyday at The Bailey Group. It is also what makes me most proud of working for The Bailey Group…our focus on the success of individuals and organizations (though I would add teams to this mix, too).
When I was first trained, it was in psychology and it prepared me to help individuals change what they can, and deal more effectively with what they can’t. Frankly, it is what I do best.
But I have always applied this knowledge and experience in work settings. Early on, I focused exclusively on individuals so that they could learn, grow, change, gain clarity and the confidence to make their work lives what they wanted them to be. I believed it helped their organizations be successful, but I honestly did not have insight into that impact.
I learned a lot from these individuals. One thing I noticed was that individuals rarely complained about the “business” acumen of their leaders. However, they had plenty of horror stories of terrible bosses and clueless leaders in a myriad of organizations; leaders who didn’t listen to them, trust them, or seem to care about them. And, I am embarrassed to say, I kind of sympathized with them. After all, I was an employee and had some of my own issues with some of my bosses and my senior leaders!
Then, I worked within an HR department, and began to work with managers and leaders from an organization-wide lens. My work then was to help their teams and organizations be effective, which meant getting results through their employees. From them, I learned all about leaders’ experiences in the world of work—their desires, aspirations, needs, and challenges. AND, I also learned how narrow employee perspectives were about their bosses, leaders and organizational systems, strategy, operations and financial considerations. Yes, there were some clueless leaders but there were just as many clueless employees.
In my 17 years putting this all together at The Bailey Group, what I see is how individuals—at all places within an organization—can be blind to the needs, experiences, aspirations and expectations of other individuals and of their organizations. The executives I know NEVER get up in the morning intending to disregard the input of others, or miss important information, or make a faulty prediction of what strategies will or won’t let them win. Yet, they do. And, it is rarely about a lack of technical experience or business acumen. It is almost always about an unconscious bias, ego need, or lack of emotional awareness of what they and others feel that drives them to resist what might be a better path, or a better way to execute on a tough decision or strategy. The unfortunate results are that valuable time is wasted, conflict is exacerbated, outcomes suffer, stress levels are increased, and in the long run, businesses don’t succeed financially.
At The Bailey Group, we know that the best leaders are successful because they blend their business acumen with an understanding of psychology—or more specifically, the science of personality. The best coaches blend that too. If you’d like to learn more, send me an email, I’d love to connect.