Why Every Business That Wants To Grow Needs a Wendy Rhoades
September 13, 2018
Image: Jeff Neumann/SHOWTIME. imdb
Why Every Business That Wants to Grow Needs a Wendy Rhoades
By: Hina Khan
Wendy Rhoades, the enigmatic in-house psychiatrist and performance coach at Axe Capital, the fictional investment firm represented in the blockbuster Showtime series Billions, may be one of the most intriguing characters brought to life in recent television history.
For those who haven’t seen it yet, Billions is a show that explores the nature of testosterone-driven ambition, depicting corruption committed by often-times sympathetic characters capable of major ethical breaches in the name of exercising political and economic power.
During the first two seasons of the hit show, Wendy, played by Maggie Siff, is at the center of the show’s unfolding drama. Her husband, the US-District Attorney for the Southern District of New York, is dead set on bringing down Maggie’s boss, the self-made billionaire Bobby Axelrod. The two men are like water and oil, yet they share a dependency on Wendy as their primary advisor and consigliere.
While I by no means want to open a debate about the moral underpinnings of Wendy Rhoades’ complex character, I do want to explore the value of her role in high-performing organizations.
As viewers of the show will know, Axe Capital has a reputation for beating the street, and Wendy’s role in that success cannot be overstated. Aside from being the trusted confidant of the founder and principal trader, Wendy meets 1:1 with members of the Axe Capital team to try to help them achieve their highest potential, which in turn helps the company fulfill its ambitions. Though her background is in psychiatry and that clearly influences her work, Wendy is first and foremost a performance coach, and she’s a good one.
Because of the overlapping personal and professional conflicts that take place on its premise, it’s easy to overlook why Axe Capital, a company that depends almost entirely on the mental clarity and focus of its employees to succeed, would have an in-house coach like Wendy. Nonetheless, as impulsive as Bobby Axelrod is, his decision to hire Wendy and imbue her role with prestige shows that Axelrod understands that traders need more than RedBull and scandalous nights’ out to perform well. Here are five reasons why any high-performing company should have a Wendy Rhoades-like coach in order to ensure its growth:
1. Keep the Team Focused and Hold The Vision For the Company
For an organization to succeed there needs to be a win-win between the company’s vision and the goals of its employees. Without help from the organization, it’s easy for employees to lose sight of thread that connects them, and the win-win can quickly begin to feel like a win-lose. By ensuring that each employee speaks to the performance coach, Axe Capital provides a means by which employees and the company can find the narrative that explains their bond and projects their combined success.
Poor self-image is the primary saboteur of any individual contributor. Defeating that negative self-talk that holds us back should be the goal of each and every employee. Too often companies project that what goes on in an employee’s head is of no official concern, yet so much of our performance is determined by how we view ourselves. By dedicating resources to helping employees know and improve their self-image, Axe Capital shows us that employees should not be left to wallow in despair and self-doubt. Having a performance coach that can help instigate the dialogue around self-image can only pay massive dividends in the long-run.
2. Help Each Individual Achieve Peak Performance.
As we’ve mentioned here, much of what goes into performance takes place beyond basic motivations, but that doesn’t mean motivation isn’t important. Each individual is motivated by something different, be it learning, recognition, financial reward, freedom, or a combination of factors. Through a performance coach, companies can better understand what motivates each employee and thus tailor its management and rewards to each person’s preference. Investing in knowing your employees deepens the relationship between the company and the employee and shows genuine interest in knowing what makes people tick and what will bring out their best performances.
3. Coaches Can Go Deeper Than HR.
Many companies’ interest in their employees well-being begins and ends with Human Resources. As diverse as the practice of HR is, many HR departments are often dealing with the consequences rather than the origins of problems. By having a performance coach, companies can identify and resolve problems up-river before they get down-river.
4. Help Individuals and The Company Realize When It is Time to Move On.
How often does it happen that an individual knows it’s time to move on but is afraid to do so because of the uncertainty that surrounds a step into the unknown? How often does it happen that a company knows it’s time for an employee to move on, but is afraid to say so because it’s difficult to imagine the person’s replacement? Often times we have a tendency to avoid difficult conversations, but avoidance simply prolongs and worsens problems that need to be addressed. A regular conversation with a performance coach will more likely surface these issues in real-time and provoke a conversation, however uncomfortable it may be, long before the root problem manifests itself through undesirable behaviours and actions.
Though some may struggle to imagine how to quantify the ROI for investing in a performance coach, businesses that have massive ambitions and depend on the well-being of their employees to achieve those ambitions should consider these and other benefits. After all, even if Axe Capital is a fictional organization, part of the appeal of Billions is its ability to approximate the operations of the real organizations it mirrors, both in terms of structure, language and politics.
If Wendy is part of the key to success at Axe Capital and companies like it, maybe it’s time to consider how a performance coach can help you achieve your and your company’s promise.