How to use NLP for good within high-performance teams

PHD group investment director Stafan Boden
By PHD group investment director Stafan Boden | 28 November 2019

Personal development and growth are extremely important to me. Recently I had the opportunity to unlock training budget through PHD’s Smart Fund (a training fund for high performers to pursue learning opportunities) to attend a 6-day intensive neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) workshop run by Arabella Macpherson, a communications coach with more than 10 years experience.

In simple terms, NLP explores the relationships between how we think (neuro), how we communicate (linguistic) and our patterns of behaviour and emotions (programmes).

The idea is that, by studying these relationships, people can adopt more successful ways of thinking, communicating, feeling and behaving.

NLP does get a bad rap and I believe deservedly for those that use it for self-gain. Used and taught in the right way, it can help fast track understanding of the brain and how to influence it for purposeful team and individual benefit.

With practice of specific techniques, communication and people interactions can become more meaningful and more successful.

For leaders of high-performing teams, there are two main challenges:
1. Dealing with individuals who have strong personalities
2. Getting individuals to act as a team and not individuals

The techniques I learnt at the intensive workshop have taught me some nuggets of gold. NLP works at both the conscious and sub-conscious level, which is why it is so effective.

In order to tap into the sub-conscious, techniques that an NLP practitioner could use include visualisation, metaphors, challenging and probing questioning techniques and hypnosis.

Ultimately, NLP can be used to improve and maintain the performance of teams. There are many NLP techniques that can be harnessed to improve team performance, I’ve shared two which can help with the following scenarios:

Scenario 1 - We have all been there at some point. One team member who is demotivated, can’t be bothered and is negatively impacting the rest of the group by not respecting team values and infecting the team with negative behaviour.

To be a middle of the road manager you need to understand everyone’s motivation, priorities and behaviours, how they operate day to day but most importantly under stress.

To become a more effective leader you should understand the team’s individual baseline personality types and makeups. These change when under stress.

Having the ability to help team members understand their makeup is important which can in turn enable team members to stand at “Cause” (accepting responsibility for results/actions).

Ineffective team members with negative behaviours are at “Effect” where it is always someone else’s fault. Having individuals with positive language patterns and empowering beliefs is key for high performance teams.

Scenario 2 - A team or individuals that lack understanding of what the goal is and how to get there. No one is motivated by ambiguity, without clear direction you will not get a effective, high functioning team with drive and purpose.

An effective leader needs to be able to communicate clearly and frequently. NLP put’s emphasis on communication, because of the role of language in the thought and decision-making process.

Teams and individuals operate effectively when there is clear communication, clear goals and understanding of purpose.

There are five principles for success although the best approach is always to break down goals into actionable chunks, this will help create the framework to be successful.

It also sets you and team up for success by teaching to focus on feedback as a way to improve, not as a sign of failure.

This approach will have the group refining individual and group actions and outcomes until collectively you achieve the goal.

These insights are a couple of many which can help internal alignment (team/company) of values and goals. In turn creating a vision and ensuring the alignment of personal goals and values.

This helps create energy, motivation and momentum toward a joint point of effort.

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