Most companies don’t hesitate to invest in new technologies. There’s an assumption that if you want to keep up with the pack, you need to invest in the latest hardware, the best software, and the top talent to run these machines. But even in an age of automation, no business can thrive on technologies alone.
People still matter. Some analysts believe that people and people skills matter more now than ever before. As observed in a recent McKinsey & Company post, “As automation and artificial intelligence dramatically change the nature of work, employees must fine-tune the social and emotional abilities machines cannot master.” Of course, like technologies, sometimes even the very best people need support to operate at their very best. This is where business psychologists enter the picture.
Despite common assumptions, in most cases, business psychologists don’t show up to put out fires. They are often brought into an organization to mitigate a problem before it blows up. However, the most successful leaders don’t even need a problem or pending problem to engage with a business psychologist. The best leaders know that a business psychologist can also help them find efficiencies and optimize their performance even when they already feel like they are at the top of their game.
While there are many reasons that leaders turn to business psychologists, two reasons stand out. First, it can be challenging to see yourself and get perspective. Simply put, you can’t paint a chair if you’re sitting in it. As trusted advisors, business psychologists help their clients get perspective. They do this by speaking the truth and being candid and fully transparent about what they observe. Second, life can be lonely at the top. In fact, close to half of CEOs report experiencing loneliness, and over 60% say it has an impact on their performance. Business psychologists not only help leaders navigate their often-isolated and high-stakes positions but also are there to call leaders out on things they may be unwilling to face.
Business psychologists hold great potential to make leaders better, and you don’t need to be in crisis to turn to one for help. But if you’re an executive, how do you persuade your boss to invest in a business psychologist? And, if you’re a CEO, how do you convince your board that a business psychologist is a legitimate and necessary expense? Below, I outline four compelling reasons why organizations should invest in a business psychologist.
Business Psychologists Help the Best Leader Have More Impact
The number one reason leaders work with business psychologists is to have more impact. In my experience, business psychologists help leaders have more impact–and in the process, drive revenues–on at least four essential levels:
Business Psychologists Help Optimize Teams
A recent Microsoft study found that we are on twice as many teams (or working groups) as we were just five years ago. While teams and more ad hoc working groups are a great way to drive innovation, the reality is that these groups don’t always click, but this doesn’t mean that they can’t click. Again, this is a crucial area where business psychologists can help. Business psychologists help teams and working groups with:
Business Psychologists Offer insight on Bench Strength
It can be difficult to have conversations about bench strength. It means stepping back to identify gaps and shortcomings on your team and across your organization. It also means getting a line of sight on opportunities (e.g., identifying high potential candidates working below capacity). As deeply invested outsiders, business psychologists are well-positioned to help leaders identify opportunities to build bench strength and to make the difficult decisions involved in this work (e.g., helping facilitate necessary exits).
Business Psychologists Are Change Management Experts
Before change management became a catchword, business psychologists were already managing change. Leaders understand their industry, market, and client demands best. Business psychologists complement leaders by providing other types of insights. Specifically, they know how to navigate the changes that are most likely to lead to heightened levels of friction or eroded trust (e.g., mergers).
Leaders create plans–business psychologists these plans by helping engage key stakeholders. Again, they do this on many levels:
Business Psychologists Anticipate Problems Before They Arise
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, business psychologists can help anticipate problems before they even arise. Because business psychologists are trained to help leaders engage in perspective-taking (i.e., stepping back to get a line of sight on what is really going on) and are positioned to ask hard questions, they can force leaders to address things that are just “below the surface” and about to blow.
To learn more about how a business psychologist can help you and your organization achieve more, contact AIM Leadership for a consultation.