How NLP and Stakeholder Coaching work well together

NLP and Stakeholder Coaching

In this article I explore NLP and Stakeholder Coaching and examine how coaches using the Stakeholder method can benefit from NLP, and vice versa. I also address the question of whether these approaches work for everyone.

NLP and Stakeholder Coaching
Win Win. NLP and Stakeholder Coaching

NLP and Stakeholder Coaching

Fifteen years ago, at the start of my training and coaching business, my clients all seemed to want the same four capabilities:

  • They wanted to manage their employees better.
  • They wanted to manage their stakeholders better.
  •  They wanted to start a business (or take a current business to the next level).
  • They wanted to get better at what they specialised in.

These four capabilities present both opportunities and challenges. I found that the following resources especially helped my clients:

  •  Learning from clients who shared their direction, challenges, and the various approaches and strategies that worked for them.
  • My 30 years working in large companies and learning what worked well and what did not.
  • My experience as an NLP trainer.
  • My experience as a Stakeholder Centred Coach.

Those last two points come from very different disciplines, but I found that they can complement each other well. I now combine NLP and Stakeholder Coaching to help my clients tackle their challenges with a unique approach. 

NLP and stakeholder coaching

What is NLP?

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a modelling approach created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in the 1970s. The first individuals they modelled were masters of personal change, which led to a series of approaches for exploring personal experience and techniques to help clients overcome blocks and achieve what was important to them. Later, models were developed across a range of human endeavours.

What is NLP?

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a modelling approach created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in the 1970s. The first individuals they modelled were masters of personal change, which led to a series of approaches for exploring personal experience and techniques to help clients overcome blocks and achieve what was important to them. Later, models were developed across a range of human endeavours.

Some of the building blocks of NLP include: setting outcomes and directions, eliciting and managing emotional states (including meditative and hypnotic states), strengthening or reducing rapport, identifying and strengthening useful beliefs, modelling high performance, storytelling, and improving communication and influence, internally and externally.

It is important to note that NLP is a modelling discipline, rather than a scientific or academic one. We are interested in what we need to do to produce results for ourselves and our clients in real time, and we’re often not that interested in coming up with explanations and theories as to why it works. If our clients are happy with their results, then so are we.

As a result of this approach, people can have strong opinions about NLP. They either love it or hate it. I find this to be an advantage, because if a potential client likes NLP, they really like it and are willing to seize the bull by the horns and sign up to one of my programs very willingly.

In my view, NLP coaching is effective because it helps clients connect their internal resources, which gives them the resilience to, for example, improve their communication and influence skills. This helps improve their relationship with their bosses and stakeholders, while the modelling and strategy elicitation skills improve their performance across a range of activities.

What is Stakeholder Coaching?

Stakeholder Centred Coaching is a highly effective form of stakeholder coaching is a behavioural coaching approach used by world-renowned business educator and coach, Marshall Goldsmith, with some of the top business people in the world, including the CEOs from Ford, Boeing, Glaxo and The World Bank. These individuals influenced many billions of dollars worldwide. Marshall has established an international coaching network – 100 Coaches — where members work with senior executives across the globe, using the same proven process.

NLP and stakeholder coaching

That process involves clients agreeing at the start to the key behavioural changes that will make them more effective leaders. Their key stakeholders then determine if these changes have occurred. The coach’s role is to help the client set up a Feed Forward approach, where the client gets suggestions from their stakeholders on how they can improve. The client then works with the coach to implement these suggestions, where appropriate.

The coach gets paid only at the end of the program, on a “pay only for results” basis. Programs last between 12 and 18 months and are only deemed to have worked if the client’s stakeholders confirm, through a confidential survey, that the client has improved in the areas designated.

In my opinion, Stakeholder Centred Coaching is effective because the approach encourages the client to align better with their key stakeholders and continually seek ideas to improve their leadership. In addition to this, it creates improved trust and a way of handling constructive conflict, which in turn leads to better decision making and more effective action. Stakeholder Centred Coaching can be a highly effective enabler for a powerful company culture change program.

COmbining NLP and stakeholder coaching

1. How might NLP benefit Stakeholder Centred coaches?

I can see three areas that would be particularly beneficial:

  1. The more aligned leaders are to their own values and purpose, the more committed and resilient they will be in implementing any development and change program. Thus, the more successful that programme is likely to be. This is a useful ‘added value’ offering to some clients.
  2.  Improving our own communication and influence capabilities will help us help our clients better when they face particularly challenging situations in their organisations.
  3.  The same as physical stretching and exercise keeps us physically fit, practising NLP approaches keeps our mental, emotional, and intuitive thinking flexible.

2. How might NLP coaches benefit from Stakeholder Centred Coaching?

Once again, three areas that would be particularly beneficial:

  1.  Most NLP clients are interested in their career success. A key element of this is how we manage and support our key stakeholders. Coaching our clients to follow a stakeholder process will improve their career success. In some cases, they may find they are currently working for the wrong company, and that it’s time for them to move on. Stakeholder Centred Coaching gives us a proven way to help our clients progress.
  2. Identifying an approach where we’re continually able to seek ideas to improve what we’re doing, and having a process to identify which of these ideas are likely to have the most positive impact, will help our clients in whatever field they operate.
  3. The stakeholder process has a very effective approach to qualifying and selecting the right clients. This is essential if we’re working for 12-18 months on a “pay for results” basis. Variations of this approach would be useful for all coaches.

Are NLP and Stakeholder Centred Coaching for everyone?

NLP and stakeholder coaching

Possibly not. While many people have significantly benefited from both approaches, not everyone will get along with them. In my view, a client needs a certain amount of ambition, courage, discipline and honesty for both NLP and Stakeholder Centred Coaching. Coaching is not always comfortable, but the potential benefits of both approaches mean that it is worth finding out more and making your own decision about how valuable they will be to you.

A final thought

Connecting to our values and purpose, so we’re clearer about our direction in life, improving how we connect to people that are important to us, helping them and asking them to help us, and improving how we communicate and influence people are all worthwhile endeavours. There may be many ways to improve these attributes. Both NLP and Stakeholder Coaching are approaches that have worked well for me.

 Michael is a Marshall Goldsmith certified leadership and team coach, and a Richard Bandler certified NLP trainer and coach trainer. He works with business professional across the world, using his NLP and Stakeholder Coaching skills to help them to achieve success and fulfillment.

See our NLP Training and NLP Coach Practitioner Training. See Marshall Goldsmith for more on Stakeholder Centred Coaching .


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