There’s a tremendous amount going on in the world at the moment isn’t there?
Individually and collectively we’re still recovering from the personal, societal and economic fallout of lockdowns, the ‘pandemic’ and Brexit. Adding in increases in the cost of living, concerns about the environment, human trafficking, the Ukraine war, and the divisions being created between groups in society, it’s clear to see why people are feeling overwhelmed, anxious and stressed.
It takes something to get up and get on with life some days. For many, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to put all the issues and distractions out of their mind and get on with their work. Indeed, money worries are another thing affecting employees’ ability to do their job effectively, highlighted by some companies offering support through financial coaching.
We’ve come a long way from the time when our professional and personal lives were seen as very separate entities. Not so long ago, we were expected to leave our personal lives at home and flick a switch as we entered the workplace. Whilst that’s still possible for some, it’s clear that to have an engaged and productive workforce, staff must be supported to feel more resilient so they can deal with personal circumstances and be a positive contribution to their workplace.
In this blog I am going to look at why Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) is great for this and how it can help workers, employers and leaders in their professional and personal lives.
What is NLP?
NLP is an increasingly popular methodology used by leaders and within companies globally to empower themselves and the workforce. It works on a number of levels; it can change negative attitudes, unhelpful habits and thought patterns so people gain greater control over how they respond and feel towards each other, circumstances and their work.
NLP describes how people organise their thoughts, mood, language and behaviour to generate the results they do. It provides people with a way to model excellence, enhance and improve performance, and generate greater success, making it an extremely effective methodology for professional and personal growth.
So what exactly is the problem anyway?
Many of us blame what’s going on in our lives on things that are ‘out there’. We’re at the effect of what’s happening to us. In reality our perception of the world comes from inside us. We view the world through our own set of filters, which incorporate all the programming and experiences we have had since birth.
Looking at the world as though it’s happening to us very much puts us as the victim. When things don’t work out for us, we make it somebody or something else’s fault and avoid personal responsibility. In this way we disempower ourselves.
In the workplace this manifests in a lack of energy and productivity, unhealthy gossip, blame culture, stress and feeling we’re being overworked or are at the effect of decision making outside our control.
Studies show that when a workforce is unmotivated, it results in higher sickness and turnover of staff, which in turn will impact output and is costly for the company. It doesn’t work for anyone.
How NLP helps us feel more fulfilled in the workplace
With NLP, we can move from effect to cause quickly. We stop being a passenger of life and instead become the driver of our bus – we get to say how our life goes.
There are numerous ways to do this with NLP. We can change limiting beliefs (what’s holding someone back), into empowering ones or remove paralysing fear and other negative emotions with Time Line Therapy(R), and set really compelling future goals. If we choose to accept the only things we control in life are our own actions and decisions, we can shift our focus away from other people and the events outside our control.
This offers the opportunity to change our perspective from impossibility to possibility. We can reframe our thinking and generate a more optimistic, can-do attitude which gives us more energy, more effectiveness and greater productivity.
How NLP helps on a company-wide level
It goes without saying that it benefits a company to have productive, engaged, contented and purposeful workers. The recent trial of a four day week in the UK has demonstrated this.
“The vast majority of companies taking part in the world’s largest trial of a four-day week have opted to continue with the new working pattern, in a result hailed as evidence that it could work across the UK economy. Of the 61 companies that entered the six-month trial, 56 have extended the four-day week, including 18 who have made it permanent.”
During the trial, staff wellbeing improved dramatically and in nearly every company, business productivity was maintained or improved. Furthermore, the number of sick days taken fell by around two-thirds during the trial and 57% fewer staff left the participating companies compared with the same period the year before. This is significant.
This wouldn’t have happened without leaders who are open to change and are flexible to new ways of working. This is key to bringing in positive change which benefits everyone! And, by that I mean making meaningful change, not tick box exercises. It’s not enough to say you have a Mental Health First Aider and offer yoga classes. Looking after the wellbeing and health of your employees means taking action from the bottom up. It starts with asking staff what they feel would make the most difference and then actually doing it.
Thankfully, the foundations for this exist. We’ve seen a shift in leadership styles over the last couple of decades, from the old authoritarian leadership approach towards one that values emotional intelligence and encourages personal development.
It’s clear that emotional intelligence in leadership is key in enabling leaders to handle interpersonal relationships, and connect emotionally with employees with care and empathy. This is very much NLP in action.
Leading with emotional intelligence
Learning NLP builds self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and capacity for effective relationship management. At its core it means we each take responsibility for ourselves, and therefore how we are leading. It’s modelling excellence and leading from within, not in front, from above or behind.
Emotional Intelligence means becoming aware of our emotional habits and shifting them towards a more positive experience. Our emotions are not set in stone, we can train ourselves to feel less frustrated, sad, stressed or even depressed after a challenging situation arises, and to feel more passionate, joyful and strong. This only happens when we take responsibility for and take charge of our emotions, rather than being a victim to them.
This kind of leadership and the ability to understand and manage one’s emotions and those of others takes a great deal of self-reflection and self awareness. We must do the internal work first and then decide what ethos and environment we want to create within our company and our teams.
What kind of leader are you?
Leaders are made. Many of us find ourselves in a leadership role without giving it much thought. Often we don’t know the type of leader we’ll be until we’re in a situation that tests us. Effective leadership happens when we take time to self reflect and consciously choose who we want to be for others and how we’ll empower them. For most of us this takes practice and skill-building, starting with our own personal development and then asking questions such as;
- How do I want my employees to feel?
- How do I want them to engage?
- How do I get them to buy into and hold our company values and mission?
- How do I delegate and share responsibility?
- How do I build trust in my team?
- Am I including everyone?
- Do I treat others as they wish to be treated?
- Where can my communication improve?
- Do I empower others to lead?
- Is everyone included and their individuality engaged?
- Am I open to criticism without defensiveness?
- Do I apologise when I make a mistake?
- Do I regularly invite feedback and ideas?
- Am I honestly open to innovative ideas?
- Do I play and encourage play in others?
This list offers a broad frame for reference and is useful to revisit regularly, especially if you’re coming up against challenges or resistance within your teams. Doing so is one way to continuously learn and improve as a leader.
Another way is through studying NLP. If you’re curious to learn more about how NLP can help you become a more effective and successful leader and increase the cohesiveness and motivation of your teams, then get in touch or look at our courses here.