Posted: April 01, 2014

Business as usual: Denver author at intersection of psych and biz

Mike Taylor

When it comes to business books, executive coach and speaker Tasha Eurich figured there must be 100,000 books out there on leadership alone. She made it 100,001 last year when she wrote “Bankable Leadership: Happy People, Bottom Line Results, and the Power to Deliver Both.” And despite the crowded field, it climbed to No. 8 on the New York Times bestseller list last October in the “Advice, How-To and Miscellaneous” category.

For Eurich, who holds a doctorate in industrial-organizational psychology from Colorado State University, the book was the culmination of 12 years in leadership-development.

“Nobody’s going to become Nelson Mandela by reading a book, but my hope was that I could write something that would serve as an encyclopedia of leadership and get leaders 80 percent of the way there to being effective on a daily basis,” said Eurich, who is based in Denver.

The 33-year-old travels the country talking to organizations about how they can improve their effectiveness and get more out of their teams. One day the audience might be newly minted supervisors for Vail Resorts at a conference in Tahoe, another day the venue is the Greater Washington Board of Trade in the nation’s capital. Locally she’s worked with CH2M Hill, Xcel Energy and Newmont Mining Corp., among others.

Occasionally she’s been hired as a consultant to help resolve a conflict within a company. “What I lovingly call ‘marriage counseling,’” is how Eurich put it.

“There’s one small company in Colorado, a manufacturing company, and it’s taken me months of individually talking to two executives to even get them in the same room,” she offered as an example. “But in two weeks we’re going to have a conversation with the three of us, and that’s really where the actual work starts. It takes a while to convince them it’s worth their time and that they’re both contributing to the problem, but ultimately you’ve got to get in a room and hash it out.”

Eurich says the skills required to be an effective leader are sometimes the opposite of what it takes to be successful as an individual. But she said, “My belief is that unless you sit alone in a room with a computer all day for your job, everybody has to be a leader in some way. Informal leadership, where you’re influencing people without authority, you’re building relationships – that sometimes can be even harder. But it’s just as important, I think.”

Eurich majored in theater and psychology at Middlebury College in Vermont, and she said, “I thought I was going to be a counselor.” That changed after an internship at Aurora Mental Health the summer of her sophomore year, in which she worked with severely disturbed children.

“I went home literally every day in tears,” she said. Nor could she see herself counseling adults as a regular psychologist. Industrial-organizational psychology, on the other hand, fit Eurich’s interests so well that she says jokingly she thought she invented it. Her interest in business stems from an upbringing in which entrepreneurial activity abounded, including her mom’s launch of the first nanny school in the country (NANI – the National Academy of Nannies Inc.).

“You can apply the principals of psychology to business,” Eurich says of her work. “And I come from a long line of entrepreneurs myself, so finding the intersection of business and human behavior is like the reason I’ve been put on this earth. So it was a pretty fun discovery.”

Mike Taylor is the managing editor of ColoradoBiz. He writes about small-business money issues and how startups are launched. Email him at mtaylor@cobizmag.com.

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