1.3 Process

The next step was to find out how the best results are created.

To this end, we have so far analysed three companies, Danske Bank’s asset management department with 400 employees, the handball team YDUN95, who became Danish champions 7 times in a row and then Nordic champions, and the Psychiatric Centre Ballerup, which has 700 employees.

We didn’t set out to find a single person who is the Outstanding Middle Manager, but rather we set out to find people who have experienced outstanding leadership. That’s why we interviewed a number of managers who could tell us about great leadership situations. When we put the images and experiences of great leadership together, a clear picture of the Great Middle Manager emerges, where we can see, hear and feel what the Great Middle Manager does.

We started with Danske Bank’s Asset Management department’s Employee Satisfaction Survey (MTU). These surveys – often with different names – are conducted annually by most large organisations. Here, rank-and-file employees, middle managers and, to some extent, top managers assess their immediate superiors with a focus on trust and motivation, which includes the elements: Personnel management, Professional management, Strategic management, Action-orientated management and Personal resources. Here, motivation is made measurable.

It enables HR and top management – and us – to find the best middle managers, copy their leadership patterns and learn their skills from others who want to be great leaders. We then interviewed the six highest-scoring managers in Danske Bank’s asset management company using various NLP techniques.

We wanted to uncover: WHAT is it that the best do as leaders in Danske Capital? HOW do they do it? And WHY do they do what they do? We wanted to uncover their personal values, basic attitudes and beliefs, their reaction patterns, strategies and behaviours for exercising excellent leadership.

We analysed the interview material in the context of other data material from MTU, and we found an interesting common pattern for “The Excellent Middle Manager” and for WHAT, HOW and WHY the excellent middle managers act as they do in their daily management and routines as excellent middle managers.

We then interviewed the handball manager and a few of the players on the handball team YDUN95 based on the corresponding principle questions of WHAT, HOW and WHY the handball manager conducts his management as he does. We uncovered the team’s values, basic attitudes and beliefs, their reaction patterns, strategies and behaviours for exercising excellent leadership. Here, the ability to “read and understand” the current mental and physical state of your players stood out as a key leadership trait. This ability was coupled with the ability to motivate and engage players individually based on their specific needs on the day through short bilateral conversations before, during and after the game.

We then went to Ballerup Psychiatric Centre, where we conducted the same analysis. However, we didn’t select the best managers from the employee satisfaction survey. Instead, we interviewed 11 managers who volunteered to participate. We realised that almost all middle managers have experienced excellent leadership. With that in mind, we picked out the best leadership stories and based on that material, we created our model for the Outstanding Middle Manager. The result is a leadership model that is simple and effective. A leadership model that delivers visible results and where the employee and business owner see, hear and feel a difference. It’s also a multi-layered model that can be learnt by anyone who wants to learn how to lead with excellence. For this purpose, we have developed a course, which can be found at the end of the book.

1.3.1 Process – prerequisite
The project is also based on the fundamental NLP assumption that you are able to find out what, how and why others do something excellent, copy it and teach it to others. Modelling is thus defined as “the process of imitating the performance of outstanding people”, and modelling outstanding leaders is the process of copying and imitating the behaviour of selected leaders in the context of his or her outstanding performance.

1.3.2 Process – interview method
The method is to uncover – through interviews and a structured questioning technique – the unique and outstanding leadership behaviour that is the prerequisite for outstanding performance, both in the leader in question and reflected in the corresponding behaviour of his or her employees.

In concrete terms, the interviews are solely aimed at uncovering very specific leadership situations where the leader in question works best and where he or she creates the very best results. The starting point is therefore very specific leadership situations where the person in question has already experienced their own and others’ good leadership style and the results of this.

The interviews should not only uncover WHAT the leader says and does, but also to a large extent uncover HOW the leader does it, and not least WHY the leader does what he or she says and does. The leader’s linguistic and non-verbal patterns are uncovered based on a targeted questioning technique that uncovers the good leader’s micro and macro strategies for exercising PROMOTING LEADERSHIP, both towards themselves and towards their employees.

In addition to uncovering relevant micro and macro strategies, we also uncovered the models’ values, narratives, representation systems (visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, smell and taste), metaprograms (thought structures and motivational strategies), eye movements and physiology (breathing, gestures, speech rate, tone of voice, etc.) This was only done to the extent that it supported the uncovered micro and macro strategies.

The micro and macro strategies for excellent leadership are formulated on the basis of the interviews conducted, which – if necessary – can be followed up with actual field studies in the form of observations of daily leadership work. Based on the data found, a cross-cutting analysis of the individually formulated micro- and macro-strategies is carried out in order to uncover only those similarities, commonalities and shared patterns that specifically characterise excellent leadership behaviour. The results are formulated in a concluding overall common model for the good leader.

1.3.3 Interview phases
In our interviews, we follow three phases:

In phase 1, we bring the middle manager into his or her open state (GDS) by initially setting up a yes-set and framing the interview. Next, we ask the middle manager to share their view on great leadership and then ask about one or more really great experiences as a leader. We chunk up/down and sideways as necessary. We ask until WHAT he/she does in his/her practice of excellent leadership through one or more concrete examples. We use all representation systems (VAK etc.) and associated submodalities. The middle manager must be associated with the situation in order for us to uncover the middle manager’s own thought process, etc. We ask HOW and subsequently WHY the middle manager does what he/she does. We do this to uncover the middle manager’s macro-strategy for leadership excellence (supplemented with a few micro-strategies). We may bring several great leadership experiences into play to cover all facets that can help uncover the unique behaviours of the great leader.

We also uncover the middle manager’s meta programmes along the way to find out if there is a pattern that recurs from role model to role model. We primarily use the following themes from the Meta Programmes:

  • Towards / Away from
  • Internal / External
  • Opportunity / Procedure
  • Specific / General
  • In Time / Through Time (In the moment / Through time)
  • Independent / Collaborative
  • Outward Looking / Inward Looking
  • Proactive / Reflective
  • Stress filter
  • Sort by self / Sort by others
  • Matches / Miss-matches

We also record all eye movements and physiology throughout the process.

In the second phase, we analyse our data collected during the interviews and compare it with the other data collected. We look for the pattern(s) that recur from role model to role model and that make the difference between the excellent middle manager and the others. We go to the core of the “Strategy for the excellent middle manager” and lock it down as the role model and pattern that we want to transfer to other middle managers.

In phase 3, we determine the method we want to use to transfer and teach the behaviour of the role model to others. The actual learning/transfer of the found model/strategy and the associated verification of its effect is done in connection with the course described above.