NLP and Leadership
Leadership: NLP for Leaders – What makes the difference?
Many business Leaders recognize the added value that NLP brings to a variety of business activities and they also value NLP for their own professional & personal development. Leaders, Executives and Business Owners are always on the lookout for development opportunities that help them or their teams become more effective communicators, coaches, mentors, time managers, and talent spotters, managers of change and people developers. What all Leaders and Managers have in common is their desire to better understand and support their teams to develop and to help them be the best they can be (and we’re all on the lookout for ways to get better results, more easily or effectively, right?).
What is NLP all about?
NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) has been described as the art and science of personal excellence – the study of what makes the difference between the excellent and the average. ‘Neuro’ relates to how we use our mind, ‘Linguistic’, is the verbal and non-verbal language we use, and ‘Programming’ our patterns of thinking and behavior. Some describe it as a ‘practical behavioral psychology’. It looks at the way we take in and process the information from the world around us. At its heart is about communication, and let’s face it business is, at its most basic level, ultimately about interactions between 2 people and therefore how well they can communicate, interact and process information is key to success. Rapport is the basis of all communication and is an essential element when it comes to coaching, influencing, building effective relationships or selling. NLP looks at patterns of behavior and whether they are helpful and bring about the desired results – and if they don’t we can change things to improve success. It is a tool for modeling excellence and being able to reproduce that excellence in ourselves and share it with others.
‘Where’s the proof NLP works’
There are of course sceptics – their view focuses on a lack of evidence that proves how NLP works. This argument always reminds me of the medical profession, which for years said there was no proof that fruit and vegetable intake could help prevent cancer and heart disease. Now it’s a well-researched and documented fact and we’re now encouraged to eat 5 portions each day. The NLP community back in the 70’s were never obsessed with proving how what they did worked and of course since that time NLP has been developed further – but it’s focus remains on practical application (learning and teaching what works and gets results). I recall a conversation I had with a well know Neuroscientist, Amy Brann who when asked about the link between NLP and Neuro-Science agreed with me that just because science & academia has yet to prove how every NLP technique works, that is not to say that it doesn’t work – it’s just that science hasn’t caught up yet (a good example of this is the NLP technique anchoring – science has now proved how it works). As an article in Personnel Today nicely sums up the view of many in the NLP community: ‘I wonder if, in a few years’ time a bunch of ‘qualified’ academics will be announcing their ‘brilliant new findings’ about NLP, while some of us will be muttering ‘what took you so long?’’
The ‘proof’ that some people seek is found by talking to people and businesses that have used NLP to increase success, change results and deliver transformation:
“If I can recommend a course to my HR colleagues and management colleagues it’s an NLP practitioner course. I’m constantly impressed with the changes you can bring about in people and help them to be the best they can be…..”
‘I think what I’ve gained most of all from NLP is its overall ethos. One of the key messages that I have taken is that that you have choices and are responsible for them’
‘The NLP models are useful in designing training, coaching and mentoring team members, preparing for meetings and presentations, and building rapport for better relationships with stakeholders’
NLP and Leadership
What would you get if you combined a talented and skillful technical professional with a highly effective and capable Leader? (No, this is not the start of a joke!) – what you would get is someone who is extremely valuable to a business organization as they would be able to use their technical expertise on an individual level while also providing direction and leadership at an organizational level. Everyone has the capability to be a leader, and in fact we are all already leaders – constantly influencing the people and events around us – our friends, colleagues, team members, and our ‘tribes’. However in organizations you often see technical professionals being promoted, and sometimes they struggle with the influencing, communicating and relationship building skills required to be a Business Leader or Manager (I’ve met many leaders and managers who admit that some of the more subtle, softer skills are not their forte). Our experience shows that those organizations who invest in the softer skills of the people they employ in managerial and leadership roles, become more efficient, forward looking and industry leading. Incorporating NLP into your leadership toolbox will enable you to develop the skills, the outlook, and the behavioral flexibility with which to improve your performance in a world of flatter corporate structures, cross-functional responsibilities, complex relationships, stressed workforces, and local and remote team-working. To excel, the managers and leaders of today require subtle skills that include being able to motivate and really work to get the best out of the individuals they lead. It requires additional skills set, that NLP can offer.
In business, NLP provides essential tools in many key areas, including:
- Communicating skillfully with peers, direct reports, and with senior management. Establish Rapport with anyone (Rapport being the basis of all communication). Listen deeply. Present using clear powerful language and a format or structure that will appeal to everyone in your audience.
- Help Leaders gain clarity over what they want – vital for providing clear and strong direction
- Understand the systemic nature of communication with and within teams – including the subtle dynamics of non-verbal influence
- Understand the thinking and emotional make-up of teamsand of the individuals within these teams – and of the manner in which these individuals pull together
- Gain new insights into situations and relationships using ‘Perceptual Positions’ (an NLP tool used to also resolve conflict and generate new ideas or perspectives)
- Understand oneself, learn to manage your own emotions and have increased self-aware
- Model the successful behaviors of others so they can be replicated
- Understand the role of beliefs and values in what makes people tick
- Know how to utilize values to tailor the motivational approach to suit each individual
- Setting compelling goals and inspiring people by ‘selling’ them the team or organisational vision and getting their ‘buy in’ to this vision
- Acquire the attitudes and beliefs that underpin confident leadership
- Influence the working environment so that it helps people to be constructive and productive