2. Neuro Linguistic Programming, New NLP, and the Excellent Middle Manager


Neuro Linguistic Programming, NLP is about modelling the excellent, the best. When it comes to leaders, it’s about studying the exceptionally talented leaders. First, it’s about finding out what mental strategies and leadership behaviours they use. Then it’s about teaching yourself and others to do the same. NLP was founded by Dr Richard Bandler and Dr John Grinder back in the early 1970s. They modelled various exceptionally skilled therapists to discover what they did. They also wanted to investigate and find out how they did it when they created those extraordinary results. Bandler and Grinder translated their findings into a wide range of communication patterns, tools and models. It became the foundation and “toolbox” for NLP and the practice of NLP. NPL has since grown in many different directions, with New NLP, where New NLP is one of them. New NLP was developed by Director and Owner of Acuity World, Henrik Wenøe, We are trained at Acuity World, and we are both enthusiastic about the entire New NLP idea base and concept, so of course we basically work from the New NLP concept.

New NLP differs from classic NLP in that it is not just about modelling the very best leaders. It’s also about becoming aware of who you are when you’re in your best mental state, when you’re at your very best. This gives you a new starting point for your behaviour, where you function at your best. In this way, New NLP is closely related to the Appreciative Inquiry (AI) model by David L. Cooperrider. It is an appreciative and appreciative approach, however, New NLP is based on the individual, whereas Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is primarily based on the organisation itself.

Another important difference is that classic NLP and Appreciative Inquiry (AI) are based on a theory and mindset that change happens through the upper part of the brain, where people must first understand what is going on before they can begin to change behaviour. New NLP does not do that. New NLP basically works in the opposite direction. New NLP begins by calibrating both body and psyche (mind) to bring the individual into the right mental state. Only then do we start working on the change. With this, the changed behaviour comes from the change starting from the bottom up in the more primitive parts of the brain.

Acuity World has subsequently translated this reverse strategy into the Acuity Performance Model. The Acuity Performance Model was developed with great inspiration from the work of Richard Bandler, John Grinder, Roye Fraser and Dr Joseph Riggio. The end goal of the Acuity Performance Model is the desired changed behaviour – in this case, the behaviour of the Excellent Middle Manager. But to change your behaviour, your thoughts need to change. And for your thoughts to change, your emotions need to change. But that’s not enough. For your feelings to change, your emotions need to change (your emotions are the electrical and chemical signals that are constantly being sent around your body). And for your emotions to change, your physiology has to change, because your emotions are created by your physiology.

This means that when we want to change our behaviour effectively and efficiently, we need to start from the bottom up. We start by changing our physiology, which affects and changes our emotions, which affects and changes our feelings, which affects and changes our thoughts, which affects and changes our behaviour. This is true for middle managers too, indeed, it’s true for all of us.

You can read more about the Acuity Performance Model in the book “Mental Fitness for Warriors – Become Sustainable”. The interesting thing about New NLP’s leadership philosophy, communication patterns, tools and models is that they can be used individually, in groups and teams of any size, at all levels of management and in any context, across the entire organisation, levels and in different industries. This makes the New NLP approach very robust and flexible and second-to-none in terms of leadership. The Outstanding Middle Manager is our term for the middle manager who possesses and utilises all – or almost all – of the characteristic leadership qualities that we have identified in our modelling of the participants involved in our Cases. In other words, our model of the Outstanding Middle Manager is composed of a number of leaders’ outstanding leadership behaviours, which provide us with the basic elements of the model of the Outstanding Middle Manager. A leadership behaviour that we have modelled based on the leadership experiences that the interviewees have given us and that we ourselves have experienced at times during the interviews. Later in the book, you can see how to perform excellent leadership.