Why Your Organization Needs A Psychologist to Grow

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“How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb? One, but the light bulb has to really want to change.”

As everyone sets out to make both personal and professional goals to begin the new year, we know that growth and change can be difficult as it is easy to settle back into routines that feel comfortable to us. At Summit, we help both leaders and organizations scale, fully realizing their potential, and with many of us having a background in psychology, we understand the unique requirements to drive growth and change with our clients.

Last year I facilitated a panel of psychologists who work in the Private Equity industry. At the annual conference for the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychologists (@SIOP), my Summit colleague, @Heather Gordon, and other I/O Psychologists shared how our profession is serving an important role in helping companies scale in the Private Equity space. As I/O Psychologists we are not providing therapy to executives as they try to manage their stress through growth, rather, we are trained professionals who have in-depth knowledge of individual differences, group dynamics, and take a scientific approach to diagnose and address practical organizational issues. During our discussion, some themes emerged that highlighted how a psychologist can provide leaders and organizations with the tools to manage rapid growth.

So how can psychologists help organizations scale?

  • We help normalize the problem – In a recent action planning session with a management team, one of the executives shared with me that they really valued hearing they weren’t alone in experiencing stress associated with growth. For highly ambitious executives that are struggling with growth, it may feel like they’re failing, but scaling an organization while keeping a nimble, fun culture can be a difficult process. Psychologists know that no one wants to have a singular negative experience and by normalizing the individual and organizational personas that we come across in our work, we can help leaders work through the adjustment period.
  • We understand the dynamic between the person and their environment – The PE operators we work with want to know our objective evaluation of talent within their portfolio companies. Recently, I was questioned on the capability of an executive as some doubt had been raised on their ability to execute, however, it was clear to me they were put in a role destined to fail. Their natural skills and talents were not being fully realized due to a lack of role clarity and organization design constraints. As Psychologists, we understand the interplay between the person and the situation, identifying which enduring characteristics can transcend most environments, and which characteristics can be maximized (or limited) based on their situation.
  • We are focused on growth and potential – In many organizations, you’re only as good as your last quarter’s results, however, when working within Private Equity, the focus is on identifying longer-term growth possibilities. At Summit, we are not just asked if an executive or management team can do the job now, but can they do the job when the role/company is five times bigger. As Psychologists, we are driven to help others unlock their potential and remove barriers, as many of us tend to be our own worst critics. We are not focused on short-term surface outcomes, rather we tend to dig deep identifying the root cause of what can be realized within a leader or their organization.

While the PE world is immersed with financial experts working up models to predict a company’s financial future, none of it will work if the leaders, the management team, and the culture of the organization aren’t working together in a healthy manner. As psychologists working in the Private Equity field, we can facilitate growth through understanding the complex people and systems issues that influence successful outcomes. As we look to the new year and face our audacious 2023 goals, a psychologist can help you or your organization prepare for change and growth – that is if you really want to change.