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Regional Group News

From The Psychology Times, Vol 3, No 3

• Baton Rouge Area Society of Psychologists

In November Dr. David Post, a Baton Rouge psychiatrist, is planning to talk on the hypnosis of Adolph Hitler for hysterical blindness during WWI, and the possible connection with his grandiosity and rise to power before WWII. The date is being arranged. For more information, President Dr. John Pickering can be reached at

• Lafayette Region Psychology Group

The Lafayette Region Psychology Group is meeting on the second Thursday of November at 7:00 pm, said Dr. Gail Gillespie. She told the Times that the meeting would be a planning session. If you are interested in attending, please contact Dr. Gail Gillespie gailgill@ 337-783- 9953.

• New Orleans Regional Psychologists

Dr. Carolyn Weyand told the Times that The New Orleans group met Friday, Oct 28. The group changed its name to the Crescent City Area Psychological Society (CCAPS). “With our name solidly in place,” she said, “we will go forward with our website and facebook page thanks to two of our younger psychologists, Meagan Medley and Chavez Phelps.” “And also,” she noted, “our bylaws, thanks to Michele Larzelere’s work with input from Kim Van Geffen, John Fanning, Arnold James.” Dr. Weyand said that “bylaws will, hopefully, be ready for a vote at the next meeting.”

CCAPS, formerly NORP, will meet next on Friday, January 20, 2012 at 6:30. Our meeting place is still to be determined.

For information contact Carolyn Weyand, by email or by phone 504-895-2901.

SEPA Annual Meeting February 15-18, in NO

The Southeastern Psycho- logical Association will hold its Convention in February 2012 in New Orleans. The main hotel is the Sheraton. More information is available online at

Steve Jobs

Freedom and Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs– Julie Nelson

One of the first things that a consulting psychologist will do with a team is to help the group establish a climate of freedom.

Decades ago when I was a brand new psychologist working at a 5,000 person Honeywell manufacturing plant in Phoenix, I witnessed this dramatic effect. From simply removing blocks to freedom of thought and action for the team members, the group catapulted from last place in the company (the shameful position of the 27th performing team) to the 1st place team, in only a few months.

As an internal consultant, this made me hugely popular. To those who didn’t know much about psychology, it was like a magic trick. But of course it had almost nothing to do with me.

One piece of luck was a leader who was extremely bright, open, and achievement-oriented. He was minimally encumbered by ego so we didn’t have to spend time on that. In team-building having this type of leader is like stacking the deck.

I applied the principles of psychology that I’d been taught and the natural forces took over. Participation, motivation, and creativity all increased. The team revved like an airplane that had been finally cleared for takeoff. Then, productivity flew.

In The Constitution of Liberty, F.A.Hayek explains that freedom is “that condition of men in which coercion of some by others is reduced as much as possible in society.” He reminds us that freedom is not power, wealth, or even happiness. In fact, freedom might mean the absence of these. And it is not entitlement.

Hayek also explains that freedom is not about the collective, but the single individual. “To grant no more freedom than all can exercise would be to misconceive its function completely. The freedom that will be used by only one man in a million may be more important to society and more beneficial to the majority than any freedom that we all use.”

Steve Jobs, the premier inventor of our time, could never have created what he did without the freedoms provided in our country.

Jobs had the freedom to go to college and the freedom to drop out. He had the freedom to reject his father. He had the freedom to start a company in a garage. He had the freedom to get kicked out of his own company and he had the freedom to start all over again. He even had the freedom not to listen to his customers–he didn’t survey them. He felt they didn’t know what they needed.

This November we honor our veterans on the historic date of 11-11-11. We think about their service and their sacrifice.

In a letter addressing the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia, October 11, 1798, John Adams wrote, “If it be the pleasure of Heaven that my country shall require the poor offering of my life, the victim shall be ready, at the appointed hour of sacrifice, come when that hour may. But while I do live, let me have a country, and that a free country.”

Steve Jobs possessed a naturally creative temperament. But what made it possible for him to reach his potential, to light the entire world with his inventions, was that time and chance placed him in this country, a country where Lady Liberty has made her home.

Les Miles

What Could Be Under The Hat?

– Julie Nelson

Les MilesSome of us in Louisiana can’t help but get caught up in the magic of the LSU Tigers and their fascinating coach Les Miles. Miles currently holds a stunning 75-17 record and his success on the field extends to his recruiting, suggesting a mixture of talent in man- agement and leadership, flavored delightfully by his own unique style.

The media has focused on Miles’ unorthodox style, underscored by the nerve-racking, edge of the seat, 2007 season, where his gambles, trick-plays, and hair’s-breadth wins, became the norm. He was nicknamed “The Hat” for his large, unpretentious cap, which morphed into “The Mad Hatter,” because of his innovative plays and a tendency to
push the limits.
Recently Miles drew attention for chewing on grass, explaining it in existential terms: “I have a little tradition that humbles me as a man, that lets me know that I’m part of the field and part of the game.”
Sports writer Austin Murphy said, “For the longest time Miles didn’t need to chew grass to humble himself as a man. He had the LSU fan base to do that for him.” (“What Will Les Miles Do Next?” SI Vault.) He’s been criticized for plays, clock management, and his communication style, described by Murphy as, “… an always original and sometimes comprehensible gumbo of declarations, digressions, distressed syntax and so-called Mile-a-props ….”
In this article, the Times publisher muses about Miles’ unique style, with some ideas from psychology to bring the coach’s magic a little way back through the looking glass.

Management and Leadership style
I asked one of our Louisiana experts in leadership, Dr. Courtland Chaney, about the style of Coach Miles. Dr. Chaney is past Professor at the College of Business at LSU, and currently instructor for LSU Executive Education.
“I believe one can make a distinction between management and leadership. Management usually refers to planning, organizing, directing or telling, and controlling people and other resources to achieve goals,” noted Dr. Chaney. “A sports coach must assure that work is managed.” He explained that examples are selecting new players, planning, and organizing recruiting efforts. “Obviously some coaches do this better than others,” Chaney said. “I believe Coach Miles does a very good job of this.”
In the SI Vault article, Murphy wrote that Les Miles had taken on the core principles of Bo Schembechler, his boss at Michigan. Murphy lists these as “integrity, discipline, toughness and the primacy of group over individual.”
Dr. Chaney explained, “Coach Miles expects people to accept responsibility for their own behavior, shows tough love when it’s appropriate, and manifests consistency in his value-based behavioral style. It seems to me he is a good role model as well as a good coach and leader. If leading by example is admirable, then Coach Miles is to be admired.”
“I would also make the case that Coach Miles is an excellent leader relative to the LSU football players and thus football team,” he said. “Putting aside any discussion of leadership traits, I would cite Coach Miles’ leadership style … Throughout the research and writings on leadership style, one finds reference to leaders showing concern (caring) for and about high performance and for the welfare of those they supervise/lead. In my judgment, this is where Coach Miles excels, and possibly holds his most important competitive advantage.”

People Oriented
In an Alexandria TownTalk article by Glenn Guilbeau, LSU player Michael Brockers said about Miles, “He’s the players’ coach. I feel like that’s what has really made us so successful right now. I feel like coach Miles understands where his team is coming from. He kind of relates. If you have that as players, we can do anything.”
Dr. Chaney told the Times, “I believe a review of Coach Miles’ behavioral practices over time supports the conclusion that he truly cares about the players’ personal welfare –academic, athletic, post-school life, etc., …”
To look at this characteristic from another view, I decided to run the text of an interview (“Les Miles unfiltered: Arkansas preview,” through the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) software so I could get a rough idea of Coach Miles’ communication. The LIWC program counts words and offers a few simple, broad-brush comparisons in its online software.
The first thing that popped out is Coach Miles’ high use of social words. The LIWC gave Miles a score on social words of 12.74. We can compare this to the average for samples of formal texts (8.0) and also the average for personal texts (9.5). While not at all scientific, this fits. He does seem to like people and enjoy interacting.
“I think we’re the only team that singsChristmascarols,” sophomore defensive tackle Michael Brockers told TownTalk. “LSU’s coach Miles shows nice guys can finish first.”
Brockers said, “I remember being shy about it my first year, thinking, ‘What is this?’ And now this year, I’m up in the front leading the songs. Oh yeah, he’s very unique, and he has us doing very unique things. But he’s our coach, and we love him to death.”
Why is social connection important? Trust. Affection. Reciprocal support. Coach Miles really does like his players. He’s not faking it.
Senior linebacker Ryan Baker said in the TownTalk article, “He’s just a different coach. I’ve never seen anything like it. He’s very successful. But at the same time, he’s a nice guy.”

Positive and Optimistic
The LIWC analysis also suggested that Miles focuses on the positive. His interview text had almost double the positive emotion words of the formal or the personal text samples. Coach Miles’ positive emotion words fell at 5.41, compared to 2.6 for formal texts and 2.7 for personal texts. He was also low on negative emotion words.
This is a pattern characteristic of optimists. Optimists are normally cheerful and happy. They bounce back more easily after hardships because their positive view makes them more resilient and adaptable. They make up a disproportionate number of leaders in our society because they take risks and seek out challenges.
Sounds about right. Great manager, genuine liking for people, positive and optimistic. And there seems to be a little bit of magic too.
• Transformational Grammar
Paul Crewe, sports writer for And The Valley Shook, wrote, “Put Miles into a public speaking situation and you get speech gumbo: take everything left in the fridge, throw it in a pot, and somehow, it comes out delicious, even if you don’t quite understand why,” (“Really Smart or Really Dumb, The Big-Picture Genius of Les Miles.”)
Consider this simple statement from Miles in an interview. “In pregame we looked at the purple and gold that may be in that stadium and the spots that would eventually be filled with purple and gold, and we enjoyed it.” (“Les Miles Unfiltered,” MSN.)
Psychologists who have studied Ericksonian psychotherapy will recognize this style, called transformational grammar. It is a style with many nuances and variations, depending on the listener and the goal of commun- ication. Here are just two ideas about its benefits.
Being an elite athlete is a complex job. While having high expectations is important for performance, we also know that these expectations translate into pressures that can impair performance on difficult, skill-based tasks. Also, performing in front of
an audience, even a sup- portive audience, increases reactivity. Even if the athlete feels positive about fan sup- port, the supportive audience has a detrimental effect.
Coach Miles’ word gumbo seems perfect for balancing out high expectations while at the same time softening the harmful effects of this type of stress. And it likely works because he really means it.
Another way that Coach Miles’ word gumbo might be beneficial to his athletes comes from research about “invisible support.” Coaches must give direct advice at times, but research has found that this carries an emotional cost for the recipient, such as feeling less capable.
LSU CoachResearchers have found that support can be more effective when it is outside of the person’s awareness or if it is so subtle that it is not perceived as support. Invisible support is associated with lower stress and stronger feelings of capability, what psychologists call self-efficacy.
“We were challenged by an opponent that talked about a rivalry and they would play to it. We told our team that is how we would rather have it anyway and lets go play. They took an edge onto the field. It did not take long to take that edge into the end zone for us.” (“Les Miles Unfiltered, MSN.)
LSU Tiger left guard Will Blackwell said in the SI Vault, “You’ve got to use your context cues to kind of decipher the meaning.”
I don’t think this style can be learned, at least not easily. I think it is more of a complex set of characteristics particular to Miles– his concern for people, optimism, integrity, man- agement skills, all coming together. In this way our Mad Hatter seems more like a Zen master, with his natural talents applied to manage high expectations for elite athletes.
All the while he keeps his feet on the ground and the grass of Tiger Stadium in his pocket, reminding him that it is just a game, and he, after all, is just a man.

(Dr. Julie Nelson is Times publisher, licensed psychologist, and consultant to businesses in organizational and talent development. She trained with Milton Erickson briefly.)