One of the aims of NLP is to enable students to learn the skills so that they can model other people in key aspects of their behaviour and adopt those behaviours and skills for themselves.

In our online NLP Premium Masters course we teach students all the skills that they need to model excellence in others.

The following is a project from one of our students which highlights perfectly the skills that the student developed in our training and how he is able to use them in order to model this key element of his work. Managing people in a professional environment.

The end result was fantastic for this student and beyond his expectations.

If you observe excellence in others then you can have that excellence for yourself. Learn NLP with our excellence assured.


NLP Modelling Exercise – Managing People

What did you want to achieve?

I wanted to model excellent management of people in a professional environment. I wanted to ascertain exactly how someone who is excellent at inspiring motivating and developing a team of people does this.

Who did you model?

I modelled Paul xxxxxxxx, Director of Operations at x-company-x LTD. He is in charge of the team of people responsible for ensuring the quality of all new products brought to the global market for x-company-x. He was formerly my manager when I worked for the company and his strong leadership always inspired me and I have always wished to emulate his excellence.

How is this person excellent?

Paul has a very varied and high-pressured role. His team are responsible for the quality of prestige vehicles, not just in their manufacture but quality in design, in engineering development, in manufacturing process and cost and in timely development.

Paul is excellent at managing his team; developing their skills and fostering a positive working environment, making pragmatic and difficult decisions under pressure and managing his own emotional responses to ensure that his behaviour is consciously designed to achieve excellent results in his interactions with others. He is also excellent at building and managing relationships with people senior to him and people across different departments within the organisation and outside of it.

How did you replicate that excellence?

I adopted the upright, confident posture he uses when moving around, the relaxed and flexible physiology he uses in seated discussion, his consciously chosen pace (to match whomever he is talking with) and his utilisation of all representational systems in conversation.

I found that we operate predominantly on the same values level (7) professionally, which was reassuring, showing me that I take a similar approach to someone who I deem to be an excellent professional. This also aided in my ability to replicate this excellence.

I also elicited his metaprograms and values in the context of work. I will discuss this in subsequent sections.

Why did you pick the skill?

I picked the skill, because whatever we do professionally, and indeed personally, we need to be able to manage people well. Eisenhower said “Leadership is the art of getting someone to do what you want them to do because he wants to do it” – whether leading a team of professionals, a class of children or managing family, friendship or romantic relationships, we always need to be able to ‘manage’ people and I wanted to understand the metaprograms, values and strategies employed by someone who is already excellent at this, in a professional context.

How did you do the modelling (eg interview/observation etc.)?  What strategies did you discover?

I did the modelling through face-to-face interview and as I have previously worked for Paul, I was able to call to mind specific instances of observation from the past. The most salient point was his flexibility with regard to metaprograms and values levels and his respect for aspects of all points of view.

The strategy I studied was his motivation strategy, in an industry sector where many people succumb to pressure and lose motivation and either burn out or seek less pressured work, or even just become disillusioned at some point, Paul has consistently stayed motivated and passionate for around two decades. The label Paul gave to the feeling immediately before feeling completely motivated was ‘absolutely knackered’ and after further questioning, he arrived at the label ‘intensity’ – this seems to constitute a difference that makes the difference, the fact that the intensity and the ‘knackeredness’ is actually at the root of his motivation was enlightening – he uses as a strength what is a weakness for many people.

Which meta-programmes were they running?

Basic Metaprograms

  1. Introvert/Extrovert: Strong preference expressed for being alone. He explained that this was due to the intensity of his role and the amount of interpersonal contact he has during the day (something that I know you and I empathise with!)
  2. Sensor/Intuitor: Both. This appears to be important in being effective at making good managerial choices. He explained that due to the nature of his work, he needs to be conversant at dealing with both detail and high level.
  3. Thinker/Feeler: Both. Again, this ability to adopt both perspectives seems to be important to effective management. A team of people is likely to have both thinkers and feelers, often in both extremes – the ability to operate as both thinker and feeler is important.
  4. Judger/Perceiver: Both, starting with an ordered plan and then the flexibility to deviate and adjust once underway. This ability to appreciate both perspectives seems to be a point of differentiation as many people in this environment are very ill at ease when deviating from plan, but for successful outcomes, it is a necessity.

Complex Metaprograms

  1. Direction Filter (Towards/Away): Strongly towards, satisfaction, endorphin release of achieving. Towards seems to be of importance to provide inspirational leadership and staying solution focused when problems abound. Specifically working in Quality is about solving problems, so for Paul, this is vital.
  2. Reason Filter (Possibility/Necessity): Possibility, scope and challenge, solving problems, using soft and hard skills. Possibility seems important in order to believe in what can be done rather than what can’t.
  3. Frame of Reference Filter (Internal/External): External with some internal, customer satisfaction. It seems that this is important in manufacturing, as success is quantifiable against many metrics. Intrinsic assurance is also important in case external reference is not forthcoming. Once again, the middle ground and flexibility appears important as a manager of people.
  4. Convincer Filter (See/hear/read/do): Hear, through constant dialogue, through conversation. It seems important that a good manager can utilize the hear filter, as conversation is a major way of sharing information. It is not necessarily vital that hearing is the manager’s preference, as long as they can use it.
  5. Convincer Demonstration Filter (Automatic/Number of Times/Period of Time/Repeatedly): Automatic/Number of Time, task dependent. Here it seems that flexibility is important, as team members will do a variety of tasks, so an effective manager needs to be able to use various types of evidence.
  1. Management Direction Filter (Self/Others): “Do you know what a) you need to do to be successful? b) others need to do to be successful? c) do you find it easy to tell them?” – Yes, yes, yes. It seems very clear that to be an excellent manager, one needs to know success criteria for themselves and their team and be competent and confident in communicating this.
  2. Action Filter (Active/Reflective/Both): Both, context and timeframe dependent. This seems like a very important metaprogram, being able to choose the most suitable approach in any given situation – acting quickly and decisively when time is of the essence and really considering all options in making larger, longer term decisions.
  3. Affiliation Filter (Independent/Team/Management) & Work Preferences Filter  (Things/Systems/People):
    Affiliation – Management, lots of mentions of we, me and team. Obviously important for a manager.
    Work Preference – Systems & People. Preference for people is important to effectively manage them and systems preference seems important to ensure important procedures are adhered to.
  4. Primary Interest Filter (People/Places/Things/Activity/Information): Places and Things, location and food specifically mentioned. Not necessarily key to excellent management, interesting to understand preference though.
  5. Relationship Filter (Same/Different/Both): Both. The ability to both stick at something and embrace change seems pertinent in being an excellent manager.
  6. Emotional Stress Response Filter (Thinking/Feeling/Choice): Choice, eyes moved through accessing cues, accessing all systems. Having choice is an imperative part of being an excellent manager, in order to be able to choose an appropriate, productive response to the inevitable challenges of the role.
  7. Time Storage Filter (In time/Through Time): In time, seems important for managerial skill so the task at hand gets full attention and is dealt with quickly. Similarly, to be an excellent manager of people, when dealing one-to-one with people, they need to feel valued and as though they are the recipient of their manager’s undivided attention. Being ‘In-time’ facilitates this.
  8. Attention Direction Filter (Self/Others): Others, picked pen up and handed back, definitely important for excellent management.

What were their values?

  1. Vision and direction. This is vision and direction of the organisation, leading to clear direction for him as an individual. When the company was without clear direction, this was the one thing that nearly caused Paul to leave.
  2. Satisfaction. Derived from the clear direction, gaining job satisfaction from making progress toward fulfilling that vision was imperative.
  3. Morale. Both individual morale and the moral of his team, this supports and forms part of the criteria for job satisfaction.
  4. Mentoring and development. Being mentored and mentoring. This supports individual and team morale, as one feels of value when growing and developing.
  5. Evolution and flexibility. Both organisationally and individually, the vision of the business and the skills and values of the individual must be able to develop over time and there must be flexibility for direction and individual roles to change. This growth and flex supports the value of development and mentoring.
  6. Variation. Day to day variation in the role underpins longer term evolution and flexibility.
  7. Passion. Specifically in the product, this underpins the higher values of satisfaction and morale.
  8. Intensity (from motivation strategy). This supports the higher value of job satisfaction; the emotional trough of being ‘absolutely knackered’ makes the high of success and satisfaction relatively greater.
  9. Wellbeing. Being sufficiently rewarded for working hard to facilitate playing hard. This again supports the higher values of morale and satisfaction.

What was the difference that made the difference?

I think the difference that made the difference was flexibility. Being able to operate at and appreciate both ends of the scale for each metaprogram means being able to empathise effectively with people and ultimately be successful, as the person with the most flexibility in approach in any given situation is ultimately successful.

Most specifically, choice in the emotional stress response filter was crucial. Having the ability to choose the most appropriate way to respond in situations of emotional stress seems to be the benchmark of an excellent manager. Always ‘feeling’ their response would inevitably lead to unprofessional outbursts and damage working relationships unnecessarily and being stuck ‘thinking’ would mean the manager would have less ability to empathise with others – this would be a significant disadvantage as it is only through empathy with people that we can understand their model of the world.

Being biased for ‘towards’ and ‘possibility’ also seems to be of vital importance. Managing a team and getting the best out of them is about getting to excellence, all the way. Someone biased more towards ‘away’ and ‘necessity’ would likely drive their team away from being poor performers, but once they had moved sufficiently far from being ‘poor’, there would be insufficient pull toward excellence to really achieve greatness.

Another important difference is operating predominantly at values level 7. Operating at lower levels would likely either lead to a lack of productivity (L6), overly self-centred behaviour (L5) or adherence to standards and procedures without evolution and growth (L4). L7 means as a manager, you are concerned with doing things in the most effective way without being self serving, this seems the ideal level for an inspirational manager of people in an organisation continually seeking to better itself.

Another point of differentiation that I noticed was Paul’s NLP-esque attitude of inquisitiveness and fascination. He was already familiar with some of the concepts of rapport building and eye-accessing cues and he was very eager to participate in the project and to receive my feedback. This general attitude seems vital in facilitating constant personal and organisational improvement.

What did you experience as you carried out the skill yourself? How successful were you? How could you make it better?

Since undertaking the exercise, I have consciously focused on choosing the appropriate response in emotional situations. This has reinforced my belief in responding in a measured, yet honest way to emotional stress, quickly taking stock of the situation and what I wish to achieve from it, matching and mirroring and then responding in the manner I feel most appropriate. This can feel quite ‘brave’, speaking honestly yet gently in situations where, in the past, I may have ‘thought’ my response and ultimately been less effective at getting the outcome I actually wanted, for the short-term gain of superficially keeping the peace.

As I predominantly operate at values level 7 and move ‘towards’ rather than ‘away’ in many instances, emulating Paul in this manner was relatively straightforward. His appreciation for the merits of other values levels within his team and utilisation of them is something I could definitely do better – while I have a good intellectual understanding that people acting selfishly is a result of their conditioning and illustrative of the values level they are operating from, I can definitely learn to better appreciate the merits of other levels and tailor my approach to motivate people at these levels better.

What did you learn specifically?

I learnt that using intensity and physical and emotional tiredness as a trigger for motivation is an excellent strategy for motivation in a high pressure professional environment.

I learnt that flexibility on the scale of metaprograms, as discussed above is vital for an excellent manager of people.

All points discussed under ‘the difference that made the difference’ were important learning points.

I learnt that an excellent manager of people shares many qualities with an NLP master practitioner – an attitude of constant fascination and inquisitiveness, a yearning to understand what makes people tick and employing tools and techniques to do this.

I learnt that I am well equipped for being an excellent manager of people myself, sharing many metaprograms and values and values level with Paul.

How are you going to use this skill in the future?

As a result of this exercise I was asked if I would be interested in re-joining x-company-x in a more senior position than my previous role. Based on the inspiration I have taken from spending time with Paul and studying his leadership in detail, this is something that is of great interest to me. This would provide me with an opportunity to not only further observe this excellence in action, but to emulate it and develop excellent management in the specific context. Thanks to Paul’s own pursuit of excellence, this would mean that I would be able to use the knowledge and skills that I have developed throughout this course to help others within the organisation to become excellent managers.

Going forward I will be mindful to fully appreciate and utilise the traits of the different values levels from which people I encounter operate. I will also stay vigilant for any inflexibility in my own metaprograms, for example, I love to work ‘towards’ and realise I need to be comfortable tailoring my approach to ‘away’ for those who need it. If I work for Paul again as I wish to in the near future, I will utilise his ‘hear’ convincer. I will also stay vigilant for opportunities to choose the most appropriate response in challenging circumstances. Consulting my own values, I realised in the context of fitness, I share the value of intensity which Paul has in the work context. I have applied the submodalities of my image for intentsity in fitness to my image of intensity at work to use it as a motivator. I’m currently still on my summer break from school, so will test it out for real in a couple of weeks, but future pacing makes me feel that intensity will help me redouble my efforts in future.

A 40% pay rise – outstanding results!

Quick update: I have agreed terms to go back to x-company-x in the new year. Doing this course played a significant part in that: not only did it get me clear on my goals (so clear in fact that the salary I have agreed is EXACTLY the figure I wrote down!! – and a 40% rise, which is obviously a huge bonus!), but without having undertaken the modelling project and the other modules on the course, I wouldn’t have spent as much time talking with my colleagues, nor in such a focused manner, nor would I have been able to demonstrate my value to such a degree; thus nor would I have been offered such an attractive package or had the skills to negotiate it!

Aside from this is has also made me feel more self assured and effective in personal and professional aspects of life.