NLP, Managing & Leading, and the Soft Skills

Managing and Leading in tougher times

Managing and team leading in 2010 and beyond is more demanding than ever before with the challenge of raising and maintain morale and motivation in a smaller workforce in which people:

  • have less job security than ever before
  • are often dealing with an increased workload as a result of staff cuts
  • are experiencing the stress of having to adjust to almost continuous change.

Soft skills… or Subtle Skills?

To counteract these trends managers needs to be highly skilled in what used to be called ‘soft skills’ but which might be more appropriately called ‘subtle skills’ i/.e the skills of being able to influence and lead people including

  • Communicate skilfully and influentially
  • Understand the systemic nature team communication
  • Understand the thinking and emotional make-up of teams and of the individuals within these teams
  • Understand the role of beliefs and values in what makes people tick
  • Inspire people by ‘selling’ them the team or organisational vision and getting their ‘buy in’ to this vision..

What and how this approach is now so important to managers and leaders is the subject of a new article on the Pegasus NLP Website on Managing and Leading with NLP.


  1. Russell on 25th May 2010 at 6:58 AM

    Great article on a subject I feel strongly about.

    I just wonder what will be the the effect of the current recession on how managers treat their staff. Will the knowledge that people fear for the security of their jobs lead to better use of subtle skills?

    A manager who is him/herself under pressure and knows that staff would find it difficult to move to a new job in the recession may take advantage of the situation to apply still more pressure.

    I sincerely hope that the days of aggressive and task focused management practices where managers feel empowered to ignore the needs of the people who work for them are behind us. However, I’m not sure that we will see this until the economy starts to really recover and staff are better able to vote with their feet.

  2. Reg on 25th May 2010 at 8:00 AM

    Good point – and an important angle on the issue of managing and leading in a recession.

    I think it’s pretty likely that a lot of managers will take advantage of the economic circumstances to use the much easier, if more short-term and short-sighted, military style of management: shape up or ship out!

    This group are often driven by the ‘panicky leadership’ I mention in the article – where strategic thinking has been put on hold and desperation and fear trickle down through the ranks.

    I suppose the question then becomes how long will this group get away with it? Which comes back to the issue of how long before the recession ebbs…

  3. Iain James on 25th May 2010 at 4:13 PM

    The recession is only a part of the picture I think. There is also the corporate terrorist known as ‘venture capitalists’.

    These people either know nothing or care very little for long term development, least of all the development of the people within the organisation. For them, paying the lowest price for a business that is being badly run or badly financed, then turning the growth / profit curve skyward quickly is the only goal. Selling it on as the share price soars, then off to the next conquest. It is the pursuit of quick wins and the largest possible profit that drives their behavior.

    It is left to the poor old line manager who still holds the illusion of a career dear, to try and engage and motivate his/her people. It is here that the style you talk of works, but for some, its a big ask and often counter cultural to their new masters.

    The breakthrough to truly sustainable, balanced business does not lie in greed. It lies in valuing people as individuals, and being in it for the long term.

    Thats it, I’ll get off my soap box now and have a bit of a lie down.

  4. Tudor Barker on 25th May 2010 at 7:39 PM

    I once worked for an engineering firm where we specialised in “short run work” (small batches of different work) – notoriously difficult to do and make a profit. We made a profit, and I say ‘we’ deliberately.

    The boss and owner of the firm, knew the soft skills and knew how to run a team business.

    He would allow each individual their own space, utilized everyone’s skills, and asked for their advice.

    In return he got a team of people who would move heaven and earth to get the job done. Sure we fell out and we had our rows, but at the end of the day we stood four-square and together. A truly wonderful work experience and remembered fondly.

    On the other side of the coin I have worked with a wonderful team of people which was totally ruined by a manager who was unable to resist controlling everything; and I know which I prefer 🙂

  5. Steve Sharkey on 27th May 2010 at 7:31 AM

    Currently working in the educational field (though still in I.T.) where “efficiency savings” dictated by the government mean cutting “back-to-work” courses and courses for the less able in our society (these being the very courses that a couple of months ago ofstead praised us for).

    Massive cuts have been dictated towards the further education market and this is an excellent time to appreciate managers “subtle skills”.

    I have to say my manager and the college principle have been pretty well developed in this area – unfortunately their efforts are constantly undermined by a Human Resources department who appear quite clueless. Strange really because you would have thought they would be quite up-to-date in these skills…

  6. Reg on 7th June 2010 at 8:38 AM

    Hi Steve: curious question re HR people. Until you look at where many of them get their training and experience – and where their priorities often lie.

    HR people sometimes come from the rank of managers… But if someone is a very good manager why move to HR?

    More often they’ll come from a more adminstrative background and then do a few courses in counselling and health and safety. Then their priority becomes ensuring the company stays out of trouble by following ‘best practise’.

    In situations like you describe the good manager becomes a buffer between ‘the cuts’ and team morale.