I am invited to a lot of networking events with M&A (merger and acquisition) advisors, PE (private equity) investors, and other deal-making types. It’s a fascinating world, and I enjoy talking with people whose language, leadership style, and goals are often very different from mine. I am often the only management psychologist in the room. People are mildly interested and polite, but for the most part they don’t really “get” the kind of work I do or why they should care about it.

In a recent small meeting with a number of M&A advisors and PE folk, however, my experience was different. The topic was “What is going on and what is the outlook for your industry?” Each of us talked a little about the work we do and what was new, exciting, or challenging. To my surprise, after I spoke many of the others started asking me about my work and my observations of the leadership landscape in the current context. That had never happened before in a meeting like this. 

Afterwards I asked myself, “What is different now? Why the sudden interest?” After all, understanding psychology has always been a fundamental part of effective leadership. It seems to me that this new awareness is a result of the pressure cooker we’re all living and working in – COVID, politics, racial justice issues, climate change, working from home – the list goes on and on. And of course, all that stuff is piled on top of our regular stresses – making our relationships work, making money, trying to be good people, etc.

Even the most high-functioning business executives I know are feeling exhausted and anxious. Leaders are struggling to provide support and guidance to their people while simultaneously managing their own issues. No wonder psychology suddenly seems like a useful body of knowledge!

The good news is that management psychologists know a lot about how to help individuals and organizations cope in a crisis. We can help people maintain boundaries. We can guide organizations to stay cohesive. We can offer advice on how to motivate and reward your employees when you’re only seeing them on a tiny screen. We can provide techniques to deal with the fatigue, the frustration, and the hopelessness.

When hard-nosed deal-makers want to know more about psychology, you know it’s tough times. We can help. Contact us at ggolden@gailgoldenconsulting.com.

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