Number 1 Leadership Tip: A Positive Belief

admin - Thursday, December 12, 2013

thinking manAt times I hear dismissive comments about NLP, that it is too large a set of tools to embody and use in business. But, if you were to
take JUST ONE of the powerful beliefs
about human beings (the presuppositions) and embodied it fully, it would change everything about how you can be and the results you get. The techniques then become unimportant, and the relationships and communications are much more effective.

Let’s explore this more fully with this example:“Every behaviour has a positive intent”. This assumes that at the deepest level of every human being, there is ALWAYS a positive intent.

“What does it mean to embody this?”, you may be asking. It means to automatically separate the person’s behaviour from their intention – and BELIEVE – unquestioningly (without any scientific proof for the statement) that they have a positive intent, even if they are producing a poor result or creating a negative response.

How is this powerful belief (presupposition) useful in business relationships?

Being as if this is true, diminishes the negative and defensive energy that creates tension in relationships – especially with difficult people. When you really believe “Every behaviour has a positive intent”, conflict, competing agendas, and people’s actions take on new meaning

Instead of trying to manipulate or control someone to change or following the rules, we begin wondering: “What does that person really want, and how can I help them get it?” Our attitude becomes one of problem-solving, curiosity, or perhaps even service.

Can you imagine what would happen in businesses and families if this was the central question we asked internally as we navigated our way through the world?

But, don’t be fooled by the poor results of the behaviour. We often develop our beliefs at a young age. We can see what we do doesn’t work, but we cannot see how to change it. And although our knowledge and ability grows and changes, it’s as if we never got the ‘upgrade’.

Here’s a really life example of a senior executive.… He oversees a budget of about $1 billion. He didn’t get to the top levels of the boardroom in a company such as this by being incompetent or inept. He has important insights and expertise. He’s studied leadership from all the great sources. He’s smart and sophisticated. His intention is strong – he really wants the company to be successful. But his strategy for achieving it had limited and mixed results – he is viewed as “cold” and “self-serving.” He had a habit of talking over people. His arrogant behaviours are defeating his purpose.

But amazing things happen when you apply – really embody – the belief, “EVERY behaviour has a positive intention”, and explore with ONLY curiosity – non-judgement. Having a mantra inside, “Teach me how to be you”, is playful and profound to explore what is going on for the person. They get to uncover what it is they are really trying to achieve and you get to appreciate them in a new way.


During his coaching, this senior executive was asked questions like:
1. When you recall situations where it does go ok, what do you remember?
Answer: I’m adding more convincing facts and defending my position.
2. Are you seeing it from your own eyes? What happens when you do?
Answer: I feel anxious and increasingly frustrated.
3. And when you pretend you’re the director, how would you change it?
Answer: I would ask questions sooner.
4. What else would you change?
Answer: I’d sit down – put myself on their level, and listen to what they had to say.
5. And, what else will you change?
Answer: I’d stop staring them down and soften my voice tone; smile and nod.
6. And, what will happen then?
Answer: The conversation takes a whole new turn.

These questions helped him to reconnect with the original purpose in his behaviours. The unwanted behaviours then slipped away, as he enacted new and more useful ways of sharing his insights and expertise in a way that way pleasant, more respectful and less confronting. He is now back living in his ‘purpose’. I’m sure you can imagine how fulfilling that is for every one of us.

Owning this one concept of ‘positive intent’ helps leaders of our complicated world expand their mind to brand new points of view. This in itself is a gift and sparks new and effective actions.


Where and when can you apply this first to start to improve your relationship and results?