By Rich Wellins, Ph.D.
It’s tough to find time to watch television. However, my wife and I try to find time to watch two shows together. The one that really rocks our boat is HBO’s “In Treatment”.
In its third season, the series follows Dr. Paul Weston, a psychiatrist who helps three different patients over a series of episodes. There is a fourth “series” where Weston goes to his own therapist. Weston is played (superbly by the way) by Gabriel Byrne.
Psychotherapy and leadership are not one in the same. One big difference: analysts need to keep a personal distance with their patients, whereas leaders can get a bit closer. But this scripted show is one of the best ways to see models of leadership skills available. Here is what you will see by watching just one episode in terms of positive leadership behaviors:
- Listening to understand, not refute.
- Asking questions that create insights around actions and behaviors. Dr. Weston above all is a seeker, not a teller.
- Being non-judgmental. Believe me, if you follow the show, he is treating people this season who are antagonistic at best. It would be easy to judge their behaviors.
- And, he will be directive and tough when he needs to be. In one case, a teen (Jessie), brings his mother (he is adopted) into a session and starts to verbally abuse her. In no uncertain terms Dr. Weston tells Jessie he will not put up with that sort of behavior in is office. It is rare, but is firm when he needs to be.
After each show, I actually try to practice some of the behaviors I have just seen (I have a long way to go).
I also cannot help but wonder: Could I work for this guy? My answer is—I’d love it.
If you’ve watched "In Treatment", I’d love to hear if you think of Dr. Weston as a leadership model.
Rich Wellins, Ph.D. is a Senior Vice President at Development Dimensions international (DDI).