I don’t get to watch a ton of TV, but after hearing this question a dozen times, I thought I’d better watch the acclaimed show Billions to understand what I was being asked. For those like me—uninitiated to the dramatic goodness of the last five-plus seasons of Brian Koppelman, David Levien, and Andrew Ross Sorkin—let me explain.
Billions is about the inner workings of Axe Capital (a large and successful hedge fund) and the tension between its founder and namesake Bobby “Axe” Axlerod and his nemesis, a prosecutor named Chuck Rhoades– yes, Wendy’s husband. Wendy is the performance coach at Axe Capital where her job is to improve the inner workings of the firm as a whole as well as each individual to maximize performance and thus returns.
My husband is an engineer, not a prosecutor, so that part of the story isn’t similar at all. So, what people are really asking when they compare me to Wendy Rhoades is, “Is the work you do like what Wendy does? Is this field you’re in the same as hers?” Here is my reply:
The work Wendy and I (and others here at Lodestone) do is similar in the sense that we are all about maximizing individual performance to achieve positive business outcomes. Often, we engage in Executive Coaching to help high performers understand the unintended consequences of their less than desirable behavior. We provide research-based tips for how leaders can control their derailers (as we call them. Wendy uses a more dramatic term—“demons.”). Like Wendy, we are regularly called into the CEO or founder’s office as consigliere on highly confidential and high stakes decisions. Although no one has offered me bourbon midday when calling me into their office. Ever. Wendy and Axe seem to have it on the regular.
At the same time, we differ on some key areas. Wendy is a psychiatrist; she thinks of people as patients. We are organizational psychologists; we consider people clients. Wendy is interested in patients’ childhood traumas—their past before their working life. We take a hard pass on those conversations. Lodestone executive development (coaching) and CEO Advisory Services are all about the intersection of the leader’s professional goals, the job requirements, and the key business imperatives. You might be a better husband (hopefully to only one wife, unlike Axe Capital’s character Dollar Bill) as a result of our coaching, but that will be incidental. Our work focuses only on your work.
Another key difference is our assessment of individuals uses psychometrically sound, scientifically-based tools to deliver targeted conclusions about likelihood to deliver on your organization’s business imperatives. I’ve seen Wendy’s Session Notes (so has her husband Chuck when he nefariously broke into her computer to see if he could find some dirt on Axe!). They are prose, long form, and wandering about the person in general, not just about the work.
Don’t get me wrong—Wendy is great at what she does (of course. They write her that way), but would you use a hammer to insert a screw? You could, but it would be inelegant as it isn’t the tool designed for the job. Why call anyone but a behavioral, work psychologist to help maximize behavior at work?
Work performance is best assessed and coached by someone trained specifically in the psychology of work, not in clinical psychology or in medicine with a psychiatry specialty. And THAT is the biggest difference between Wendy and us. (Well, that and no one has ever bought us a Thank You Maserati).