Both popular and clinical psychology believe that emotions drive behaviors. In principle this theory is simple, widely accepted and enjoys the benefits of tradition. The most frequently used example is that fear causes a person to run away. If our ancestors lacked a fear response when approaching a dangerous snake or tiger, they would have been killed. It makes intuitive sense that fear drives action, that emotions drive behaviors. But it’s now revealed to be not only seriously inadequate—but dead wrong.
That finding turns much coaching and development on its head. Rather than coach or counsel about fears, insecurities, frustrations and emotions that hold leaders and workers back, the actual beginning place is with the relevant and needed behavior. In short, for the organization the talking therapy is largely a waste of time and money.
In an extensive study of relevant research, a meta-analytic study, Baumeister, Vohs and colleagues analyze over 4,000 studies. To briefly summarize their findings they first surface the traditional theory and then define the new theory.
In a nutshell, the two theories are as follows...