Great leaders have a common quality, they are (usually) great communicators. This is an area where Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) can help a great deal. And in this post, we’re going to explore how NLP can boost leadership skills, first and foremost towards ourselves and then towards others.

Q&A with Effie Kyrikakis: How NLP can boost leadership skills

Of course we’re not experts on this topic. But lucky for us – and you – we know someone who is.

Effie Kyrikakis, our free language courses facilitator and English teacher, is also a specialist NLP trainer. And she’s passionate about how NLP can boost leadership skills – especially for entrepreneurs and startuppers.

We had the pleasure of having Effie here in another of our open Q&A sessions at Starttech to give us her insights on this subject, and it’s safe to say we had our minds blown.

How NLP can boost leadership skills: an introduction

Before getting into the various ways NLP can boost leadership skills, let’s see why more and more people talk about NLP.

What is NLP?

For the uninitiated, NLP stands for Neuro-Linguistic Programming and it is an approach to communication, personal development, and high performance states. It was created by John Grinder and Richard Bandler in the United States in the 1970s.

Neuro refers to your neurology; Linguistic refers to language; programming refers to how that neural language functions. In short, NLP is akin to learning the language of the mind.

Effie gave us her own definition.

“NLP is one of the most progressive and effective programs or systems for personal and professional development. Neuro-learning power as I call it, is a way to learn according to how our brain works. For example, let’s say you have an app that works in a predefined way, one that is programmed in a specific language. Isn’t it actually insane to try and make it work in a different way?” (that’s a no-brainer – pun intended). In this same way, NLP helps us “work” with our brain – this wonderful tool of ours – the way it is programmed to. In other words it supports us to achieve our highest potential.”

Everything starts with your “circle”

Paraphrasing the well-known saying “We are the average of the five people we allow ourselves to be influenced by”, Effie believes that one way to do this is to surround ourselves with people that affect us in positive ways. It is a fact that we tend to choose people with whom we share the same passions, innovation for example.

Interestingly, NLP strategies can enable us to connect with other people’s best self, building deep rapport that can initiate powerful relationships both within our teams and, equally importantly, with customers.

Once you have the best possible rapport with others, there’s a lot of ways you can tap into your inner power, and discover how NLP can help boost leadership skills.

Here are our key takeaways from Effie’s Q&A session:

“Conceptual attention”, the foundation for high performance states

A recent discovery of neuroscience, the term means that our brain has the ability to perform better, in a more effective way, when, to handle a challenging situation, we first just do something creative that might seem unconnected or irrelevant with our task. Something which is really fun, for example. By doing so, we enter a resourceful state. New Code NLP high performance games, one of which Effie designed for our session, are actually incredibly fun and extremely effective.

What’s interesting is that without knowing it we have already applied something relevant at Starttech. With our foosball tables, table tennis, and retro arcade video games, we give team members of our portfolio companies a few moments of fun before they get back to their challenging, mostly programming tasks. And our whole company culture and philosophy here in Starttech is of that kind. We try to create encourages learning and creativity.

Imitation is a good thing

Observing and “copying” the way others accomplish a specific result can be a very powerful way of developing skills. After all isn’t that how we unconsciously acquired fundamental skills like walking and talking as children?

According to Effie, success has a pattern. If one person is able to produce a certain result then we all are. For example, if one is able to communicate efficiently then we are all capable of that. If someone is able to produce a good outcome in his/her job, then why can’t you? The only thing required to reach that outcome is to find out the pattern behind that accomplishment, the structure of success.

Actually, this strategy is called “NLP modeling” and NLP was originally based on modeling excellent performers in their field of work to create its extremely effective communication patterns.

What’s even more important is that NLP gives you the tools to model anyone you wish to in order to produce your desired results.

In fact, that’s exactly what our Venture Building team and our team members in general do. We transfer our learnings from one startup to another. Ιt’s the philosophy of our whole ecosystem and our open space encourages this kind of development.

What skills should one have to be successful in business?

A favorite question of ours to all of our Q&A subjects. And here’s what Effie had to say:

“Technical skills, the ones that are listed in a job description, are of course the ones that define this specific job position and the role of a candidate. However, it takes more than hard skills to be successful in any business role. More than ever, it is equally essential to see things from multiple perspectives, boosting creativity. It is vital to enter challenges in a resourceful state augmenting one’s problem solving skills. It pays to have state choice so that you are adaptable to the continuously changing environment. These are among the top competencies in demand in the business world and they are actually skills that are learn-able and can be boosted. To top it all, being able to effectively communicate and persuade is an essential leadership skill.

Success is a team sport and NLP can help you be a high achiever.

Whose map is right?

Our background (our experiences, memories, history, beliefs, princples goals and much more) affects heavily the way we absorb new information. More than we realize, actually.

Based on that personal perception, what Effie calls our personal map of the world, we also interpret reality around us. And, not surprisingly, tend to make assumptions about how others see the world:

  1. we get to confuse our map with reality, assuming that only our interpretation is right and…
  2. we also believe that others comprehend reality in the same way with us

These are the foundations of most challenges in human interaction.

Realizing how very subjective and sometimes limiting our personal map is, helps us enter our interactions with others with curiosity, willing to enrich our map of the world and negotiate mutually acceptable solutions.

So how can we effectively connect with others?

To set the base for good communication with other people we need to have a common context. There are no strict rules in NLP according to Effie but there is a basic principle which she sums up like so:

“What would it be like if we engaged with others accepting their reality as is, without judgement?How much easier would mutual understanding become when, instead of contempt or disapproval, we initiate with curiosity, willing to look for answers to questions like…What is her/his reality? What is revealed by their language? How can I communicate to their map of the world?”

When we do the above, as Effie says, the interaction is much more fruitful for both parties. You may be thinking to yourself: We could always keep in mind that our reality is not what we actually experience but how we interpret or comprehend what is happening.

Rapport, the key of human connection

The previous point is of course, all about empathy. And this quality is so important for communication and one of the main reasons why NLP can boost leadership skills.

Implementing these core soft skills in the business environment has been helping entrepreneurs and startuppers with two basic but key elements:

  • Teamwork: Our work and success is based on teamwork. You can’t win or even survive within a business environment without collaboration. And your startup or business venture will certainly not thrive. Teamwork is major part of our professional lives.
  • Interaction with customers: When your basic goal is to sell your product or service, you need to find the optimum way to communicate with and persuade customers. In other words, to convey your message in a proper way. To do this you need to become an expert in getting into “their shoes”.

NLP is an enabler; Especially in leadership skills

At the end of our session it was pretty clear to us all how NLP can boost leadership skills. It is a concise, highly effective system that empowers us as individuals and teams to perform at our highest, to unlock the power of our communication skills and tap into our EQ (Emotional Intelligence Quotient). In short, it is an “enabler” for us to look beyond our own perceptions and understandings. We can even go as far as to say that NLP power, learned and applied correctly, can help to navigate safely through the uncharted territory of life and business challenges, inspiring and empowering the Captain within.

P.S. If you like this article and want to read more insights on subjects ranging from investing an entrepreneurship to personal growth and marketing, please check out our Q&A Talks hub. As you may already know, our guest speakers are not only entrepreneurs or people from the corporate environment. We welcome participants from all walks of life to come in and share their wisdom with us. Very much like a mini TEDx. 🙂


Konstantina Ferentinou Konstantina Ferentinou

The Starttech Ventures Content Marketing Writer. Studied Computer Engineering and Informatics at the University of Patras. She has working experience in technical writing, sales and support related roles. She now focuses on content creation. Channeling her creativity into writing, she hones her ability to communicate the right message through various content types.