Language, Leadership, and Authenticity: A Neuro Linguistic Perspective

Language, Leadership, and Authenticity: A Neuro Linguistic Perspective
By: Lara Hernandez

Embracing Multilingualism and Diverse Perspectives

Born in Montreal with Mexican heritage, language was not just a means of communication, but a gateway to different perspectives. Between English, French and Spanish, the nuances of meaning can shift to reveal new layers of insight.

With over a decade of experience in high-level hospitality, I developed an appreciation for the power of interpersonal connections and effective communication. However, a health challenge prompted a shift in my career trajectory. Amidst uncertainty, a friend’s suggestion led me into coaching, where I delved into the principles of neuro linguistic programming.

This transition not only broadened my professional horizons but also deepened my understanding of leadership and communication dynamics. Drawing from my background in hospitality alongside my current neuro linguistic programming lens, I now strive to empower leaders to cultivate authenticity, empathy, and self-awareness in their communication and leadership endeavors.


Understanding the Influence of Early Programming on Leadership

It's fascinating to realize that our journey toward effective leadership begins in our formative years. Between the ages of 0-7, we exist in what is known as a theta state, where we absorb the world around us like sponges. During this critical period, our experiences shape our understanding of language, emotions, and beliefs. Every experience during this time plants the seeds of our future leadership style and communication patterns.

As I began to apply this learning to coaching, I realized that the work of a leader extends far beyond the boardroom – it begins internally. Leadership is not just about commanding a room or delivering a compelling presentation; it's about understanding the intricacies of our own language, emotions, and beliefs.

This intrinsic connection between the words we use and the actions we take cannot be overstated. At The Humphrey Group, we understand that effective leadership emanates from a place of authenticity and integrity which means that leaders must have a deep understanding of self. Delving into the depths of our programming can uncover the unconscious patterns that shape our interactions and decisions as leaders.

The first step is to practice self-awareness. Often clients will share interactions that have left them feeling upset. Every feeling indicates a need, so we’ll talk through what a certain word or interaction may have brought up. Working through the situation, we drill down to what the underlying feeling is. On your own, consider utilizing modalities such as inner child or shadow work to uncover these ideas.

The next step is to figure out what belief this feeling is attached to. The beauty is that we can change our beliefs. After all, everything we know to be “true” is based on our unique programming. Ask yourself if you can connect the feeling to a memory. When was the last time you felt this way?

This may require you to drop into and connect with your body, allowing the feeling to process. A modality like meditation can be extremely helpful as it helps us to silence the chatter and tap into what we are experiencing on that deeper, neuro linguistic level. 

Typically, when you identify what’s happening on that level, the belief begins to lose its power over your emotions. This is where you can introduce a new, more helpful belief, but note that it’s critical your new belief be something you truly resonate with.


Practical Application in Leadership Scenarios

So how does this look in practice? Imagine you're a leader preparing for an important presentation about an upcoming strategy change. As you craft your slides and rehearse, you can't shake the feeling of anxiety and self-doubt. You even start to question whether you're the right person for the job.

First, practice self-awareness. Take a moment to pause and reflect on what is triggering these emotions. Through introspection, you may realize that your fear stems from a deep-seated belief that you're not capable.

Next, consider where this belief is coming from. You recall that in childhood you were criticized for making mistakes, which you internalized into the idea of not being good enough. By connecting the dots between this memory and your current feelings of inadequacy, you begin to understand how past experiences shape your present mindset.

To process these emotions, practice mindfulness techniques such as meditation or breathwork. Allow yourself to sit with any discomfort you may feel without judgment. As you cultivate a sense of inner calm, you will feel the grip of fear loosening.

Finally, introduce a new, more empowering belief – but remember, it must be something you can truly believe. In this case, perhaps that is simply acknowledging that the experiences of your childhood don’t define your worthiness today. 

Whether working through an active trigger or seeking clarity in a situation, this process can be done at any time. As we navigate the complexities of leadership, the journey towards authenticity and self-awareness is ongoing. Neuro Linguistic programming offers us a profound lens to understand the depths of our internal experience and unlock the potential to become more authentic, compassionate, and effective leaders.