L. Michael Hall, Ph.D.
- What makes a leader a leader?
- What qualifies a person to led and to step up to a position of leadership?
- What distinguishes a person as a leader?
- What enables a person to exercise influence with others?
While leaders come in many different forms so that there are many different kinds of leadership, leaders arise and express themselves in a given context. That context is the particular values, expectations, needs, style, and culture of some referent group. This realization, of course, leads to numerous other questions—questions that are more precise to our concerns.
- What qualities and traits do we look for in recognizing leaders in Neuro-Semantics?
- How will we recognize and qualify the men and women who will arise in Neuro-Semantics as leaders?
- What criteria of leadership will we set?
- If we want leaders who lead from the Neuro-Semantic vision, what will be the prerequisites of leadership?
Obviously, in Neuro-Semantics, we look mostly and preeminently for leaders who embody the principles of the neuro-semantic vision—its principles and practice. We look for practical leaders who are excited about the vision, who apply that vision to themselves, who look to add value to others, and who work at translating their talk into their walk. Conversely, we will not be interested in leaders who are driven by visions of personal glory (ego-driven leaders), the rank and status of privilege, or the ego satisfactions of someone who want to be a guru with his or her own kingdom.
To that end, I have set forth the following leadership criteria. This criteria comes immediately and directly from the Vision and Mission statement of Neuro-Semantics. As such it reflects the very qualities of individuals who are in actuality leading out in directions which fit the meaning and purpose of Neuro-Semantics.
In recent years, I have become aware that I should not only wait for men and women with these special traits and qualities to arise, but that I should intentionally plan to facilitate this kind of leadership development in people. Also, recognizing that most leaders in Neuro-Semantics will come through the Training and/or Coaching tracks, I have set forth the following 7 criteria as the foundation for leadership. These are divided into two categories: Being and Doing criteria.
- Authenticity: being and acting from one’s true self without masks and personas
- Integrity: being as good as one’s word, impeccably honest and fair-minded
- Congruent: applying the principles to self so that one walks the talk
- Contributing: giving of oneself to others, serving from the NS principles
- Collaborating: operating as a team player, cooperating with others
- Pioneering: leading out into new areas
- Communicating: sharing and disclosing in ways that are clear, precise, succinct, engaging, and compelling
The following is still in its formative stages and I will be updating it in the years to come. In setting forth the following criteria, I first offer a definition and then a benchmarking from 0 to 5 of specific behaviors that evidence that criterion. About reading the benchmarks, start with 0 and move upwards. Or you could also start with “3” to look at a description of the basic competency and then read down the list for less and less of that competency or up the list for more and more of it. With each higher number, the person demonstrates increasingly more of the positive features of the quality and less of the negative features.
The Importance of Benchmarking the Skills of Leadership
We humans are multi-dimensional creatures. We simultaneously live at physical and meta-levels. On the physical level, we live in our bodies and have basic primary states experiences in the senses, and yet we also at the same time live at meta-levels. While in primary states we also live in our heads and see the world in terms of our beliefs and values. By encountering the world, each other, relationships, work, etc. we do so through multiple layers of filters. We do so through the meta-programs filters, through language filters, and through meta-state filters. This world of human constructs is where we experience our highest and best and most glorious experiences.
Yet here also we can construct some very negative and even toxic states. This is where the Meta-Model becomes a powerful tool for identifying toxic experiences and enabling us to escape that Matrix of frames. How?
First by the use of precision questioning of the Meta-Model. Doing that allows us to pull the constructs apart as we de-nominalize the processes that someone named into existence and mis–represent as a thing. Because we use the meta-representational system of language to construct our intangible realities, we are also able to de-construct the same by questioning the language. We do this with “failure,” a nominalization, by turning the noun-like term back into a verb so that we can see the process and our role in creating the process.
Yet the problem isn’t only with intangible realities that are problematic. The problem is with the intangible realities also. The problem is with such nominalized idea of “leadership.” What is leadership? The hidden verb, of course, is leading. Yet that’s pretty unspecified. Leading who? Where? When? According to what standards? Etc.
The BEING Criteria
Some of the criteria has to do with the person and character of the leader. These speak about the leader’s ability to lead him or herself in using and applying the models and premises of Neuro-Semantics. The presupposition is that one has to first learn the art of leading and managing oneself before attempting to lead others.
1) Authenticity: Authenticity: being and acting from one’s true self without masks and personas
Being real or true to oneself, to one’s gifts, talents, abilities, dreams, values, visions.
Definition: Authenticity refers to “authoring” one’s own life from one’s own thinking, feeling, speaking, and acting. It’s an expression of being personally real and true to oneself. This comes from “applying to self” and becoming congruent with one’s own truths. Authenticity speaks about being real— being and presenting oneself as one is without the need for pretense, arrogance (arrogating to oneself traits and qualities that one doesn’t have) or having driving ego-needs. Being authentic speaks about being willing to be human, fallible, to know not everything, and to not have to be the center of attention. Authenticity implies a solid enough sense of self so as to be modest, humble, and able to extend self to and for others. The opposite of authenticity is the shallow make or woman who is only known through masks, roles, personas, etc.
What do I really want and believe in?
What is really important to me?
What makes for a meaningful and significant life?
What do I really think and feel about the things that are important to me?
How true do I act on my own beliefs and opinions?
What are my passions, talents, and vision?
|5||Will pay price to live up to highest values and visions and not follow “path of least resistance.” Willing to stand out from crowd.|
|4||Willing to take a stand on unpopular issue, speaks with energy, emotion, and enthusiasm about things one values and cares about. Willing to show emotion about such.|
|3||Mostly speaking and acting congruently, words and gestures match content of what one says. Speaks from one’s views and opinions even when in conflict with social group.|
|2||Sometimes speaking and acting in ways that reveals one’s true heart and views. Mostly trying to please others, fit in, and conform.|
|1||Speaking and acting in ways that are incongruent, not sounding believable because tone, volume, style doesn’t match content of words, outward expressions not revealing inward feelings and thoughts.|
|0||Playing roles to trick or deceive, acting as a “Yes” person to whatever is socially or politically correct or acceptable, not owning one’s own voice, lack of confrontation, hesitating when confronting.|
2) Integrity.Integrity: being as good as one’s word, impeccably honest and fair-minded
Definition: Integrity speaks first about being whole and integrated which immediately leads to a forthright and honest presentation of self. When a person has integrity, there is an honesty and reliability in the person so that the person will do what he or she says. Integrity means making promises and keeping them, It means honoring the words we utter and not breaking our commitments. Integrity leads a person to typically do whatever it takes to come through with one’s word and that when we cannot, we immediately communicate that, apologize quickly, and make whatever amends seem appropriate.
Integrity also refers to telling the truth even when it’s difficult. It means living one’s life as an open book without a lot of secrets or cover-ups. Several of the pathways to integrity is making oneself accountable to others, receiving and integrating feedback, and staying in a community where we can be available for such. The opposite is being dishonest, lacking the strength of character to tell the truth and to be fair.
Are you as good as your word?
Do you generally come through with what you do?
Can people generally trust you, depend on you?
Do you receive feedback graciously and seek to use it?
Do people have any basic integrity issues with you?
|5||Comes through on promises even at great cost (financially, time, energy).|
|4||Lifestyle and actions shows strong and consistent congruency between word and actions. Quickly making amends or communicating about problems when cannot come through on a promise.|
|3||Mostly doing and acting on what one says or presents (75%). Mostly open to correction and feedback, making amends.|
|2||Coming through with 50% or more of what one says, acknowledging misalignment between word and action. Sometimes making excuses, getting defensive.|
|1||Saying that one wants to come through on a promise or idea, but evidencing little to no behaviors that match those words. Breaking agreements without making it open and explicit.|
|0||Behaviors that show no relationship to promises, commitments, or word. No mention of the difference between word and action. Lies, deceptions, presenting oneself in ways that do not fit reality.|
3) Congruency: Applying the principles to self so that one walks the talk
Definition: Congruency speaks about being harmonious, in agreement with self, and arises from the ability to “apply to self.” Our speech and behavior fits with our thinking and feeling. This comes from applying and translating our ideas, principles, and beliefs to ourselves. When this happens, we can walk our talk. Our actions then appropriately reflect our principles and premises.
Since “apply to self” lies at the heart of NS, it lies as one of the key and central leadership criteria. Apply to self enables us to be congruent so that all of our parts are aligned and congruent with our values and visions. We are not inwardly torn, we do not fail to live up to our values. We can step back, evaluate ourselves with some fairness, seek feedback, and take responsibility for one’s own responses.
Does you apply NLP and NS to yourself?
What are the indicators that you do?
Am I aligned with my values and visions?
Do others see me as congruent or incongruent?
Do I walk the talk?
Benchmarking “Apply to Self”
|5||Constantly talking, inquiring, exploring how to apply to self, improve. Explores feedback when given, and eagerly invites feedback, receives coaching, etc.|
|4||Applies most things to self, constantly seeking to continuously learn, develop, improve. Few incongruencies, searches for feedback.|
|3||Apply many things to self, asking about how to apply something to self, receiving coaching, feedback, and therapy to work on self, an openness to feedback.|
|2||Applying a few things to self, but mostly focused on what others are doing or not doing Still many incongruencies in lifestyle.|
|1||Thinking about how something might relate to self, but not applying to self. Word and action doesn’t match, incongruency between talk and walk.|
|0||Never talks about applying to self, or how something relates to self, talks only about what others are doing or should do.|
The DOING Criteria
From being comes doing. One of the central themes in Neuro-Semantics is closing the Knowing-Doing Gap so that we implement what we know. This leads to the being criteria of authenticity, integrity, and congruency. From there, we have the following criteria that manifests leadership.
4) Contributing: Giving of oneself to others, serving from the NS principles
Definition: Contribution means giving to the community and field, investing time, energy, ideas, emotion to making the field successful. In leading a true leader serves his or her constituency by investing self, time, and energy and by contributing to the health and vitality of those who follow.
Relationship to Leadership: Leaders lead. To be a leader means that a person demonstrates leadership which involves participating in the community, sharing, giving of oneself, having a voice on the egroups, assisting on trainings, referring people to trainings, writing articles that promote Neuro-Semantics, being moderators on egroups forums, etc.
Examples: It may mean leading out in a specific area of expertise such as what Bob Bodenhamer is doing with the work with Stutterers and what Michelle Duval has done with Coaching. It may be using NS in one’s commercial branding that helps to build credibility for the movement.
What have you contributed to the community?
What investments of your time, effort, money, intelligence, etc. have you contributed?
When was the last time you contributed to the community?
What are you doing now?
|5||Leading out in new ventures and contributing discoveries back to the NS field, making networking possible, creating websites, new products and services, patterns, models.|
|4||Regular contributor to egroups, participating on Assist Teams at trainings, helping out on specialized projects, monitoring egroups, sharing ideas and best practices.|
|3||Writing posts, offering ideas, suggestions, referring people to NS trainings, networking with others, starting practice groups.|
|2||Keeping ISNS membership up, regularly participating in egroups, practice groups, and events. Networking with a few others.|
|1||Not keeping ISNS membership up, writing one or two posts on egroups a year, showing up for some events, but keeping mostly to self.|
|0||No indication of having given anything to the community. Holding back from giving ideas, patterns, models, helpfulness. Not available to invest energy into projects, programs, etc.|
5) Collaborating: Operating as a team player, cooperating with others
Definition: Collaborating with others means cooperating, operating as a team player, helping, assisting, etc. A collaborative style such as that presupposes the ability to reference the thoughts, feelings, values, and needs of others, to take second position, to be empathetic, concerned, and even loyal. It means matching, supporting, and following the lead of another. If the person is naturally a mismatcher, he or she can turn off the mismatching to be a member of the team. As a team player, we are able to shift from sorting by self to sorting by others and thinking of the good fo the larger community. Opposite to collaborating is keeping to self, not sharing, not disclosing, not making oneself open or vulnerable to others.
Collaborator or Team Player Questions:
Are you a team player?
Do others describe you as a team player?
How well do you support others and contribute to the overall good of the community?
Are there people who think of you as not a team player?
Do you come from a sense of abundance?
How much flexibility do you have in shifting to Sorting by Others?
|5||Adding to a team in creating a sense of working well together, performing as a high performance team.|
|4||Following the lead of someone and supporting him or her in a project (see Supporting), contributing ideas about team work, collaboration, etc.|
|3||Being a part of a team project, Assist Team, Coach; helping a group or team become more cohesive.|
|2||Supporting others in a project, collaborating with them on something that contributes to their success or that pioneers some new facet in NS.|
|1||Talks about collaborating, but does not get around to it, mostly keeping things to self and not sharing.|
|0||No participation with others, keeping completely to self, criticizing others and what others are doing.|
6) Pioneering: Leading out or moving out into new areas.
Definition:Pioneering refers to launching out into new and unexplored territories. As a metaphor, the pioneer describes a leader as one leading out to some new place, going first, being an example, trailblazing the path. As such a pioneer or leader sees a vision and begins acting to make it real. As others catch that vision, the follow that lead.
People who are actually leading out in some area by speaking out on something, creating a product or service, doing something that’s commercially viable, running a training company, developing a training, creating coaching practice, developing new program, model, idea, pattern.
Do people follow me?
Where and in what areas do they follow?
Can I communicate a vision clearly and precisely?
What have I provided leadership for?
In what areas am I now leading out in?
|5||Setting frames for solving a problem, setting forth a vision of a new possibility, inviting others to share the dream and co-invent the solutions.|
|4||Taking steps to work on a solution, inviting others into the process, looking at what works and doesn’t, writing posts about such, networking with others, setting up a project to explore such.|
|3||Exploring a market gap with lots of solution-focused questions, inviting people to brainstorm about solutions, researching what solutions have already been developed or explored.|
|2||Exploring, talking, questioning about a problem gap that needs to be addressed, asking solution focused questions about it.|
|1||Talks about new directions, but does nothing, talks about needs, problems, and complaints.|
|0||Sharing nothing, pioneering no new directions, keeping to self.|
7) Communication:sharing and disclosing in ways that are clear, precise, succinct, engaging, and compelling
Definition: Leaders lead by communicating. They communicate a vision, an idea, a value, a hope, or a desired outcome. In leading by communicating, the communication typically is persuasive or influential because it has certain qualities. It is precise, succinct, clear, compelling, and inspirational. The communication effectively languages or frames the felt needs, emotions, values, hopes, dreams, fears, etc. of those who follow. Leaders lead by framing, building relationships, matching, negotiating, seeing and seizing opportunities, risk taking, and developing an entrepreneurial in attitude and disposition.
How precise, accurate, and succinct are my communications?
How clear is the vision or picture that I describe in word or in print?
How compelling, inspiring, or motivational are my words?
Do people seem drawn and compelled by the word pictures I draw or the frames that I set?
|5||Able to create crystal clear images and movies for the mind that move people to take action, that succinctly states with precision the next step and that calls for action.|
|4||Able to effectively match and pace a group of people and call them into a community, mostly able to get to the point and to be succinct, more precise descriptions.|
|3||Able to put into words the hopes and dreams of others, but verbose and close to get to the point, not always clear or precise.|
|2||Oral and written words partly focused on a vision, dream, or new idea, still half or more of it about self, either very talkative or offering not enough description to be inspirational.|
|1||Moderate amount of words, some suggesting a vision or dream, communications mostly vague, fluffy, undefined, perhaps wordy, redundant, not getting to the point. Or words almost always about self or coming back to self as if needing to put forward.|
|0||No or few words or communications that lead forth to anything new or different. Only words of complaint or dislikes. Only words that relate to self not others.|
Conclusion: Seven Leadership Criteria
While I have chosen these particular criteria for leadership in Neuro-Semantic, they are not the only criteria I could have chosen. Nor do they only apply to Neuro-Semantics, they can obviously apply to many other leadership areas. In fact, When Certified Meta-Coach Joe Scott was living in England he took these seven criteria and these benchmarks and used them to create a Leadership Coaching program in his work with numerous CEOs. The CEOs that he worked with were leaders in a number of different businesses and found that these being and doing criteria applied equally well to that context.
L. Michael Hall, Ph.D. is a modeler of positive psychological experiences and leadership is simply one of the areas that he has been modeling.