MICHAEL: James, please introduce yourself.
JAMES: My name’s James Prior. I work for AstraZeneca, one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies. I’m the Organisational Development Partner. My role is really looking after leadership development; it’s also looking after the culture within the business considering where we’re headed as a successful organisation, and looking at the business skills offerings we have.
MICHAEL: That sounds a lot to me.
JAMES: Yes, it’s quite a big role. And obviously I don’t do all that on my own. I have a team of two people as well who help support me in those areas.
MICHAEL: If we can move on from that. What experience of NLP have you had?
JAMES: Over the years quite a bit, working up to my Master Practitioner qualification in coaching, leadership development and change management.
MICHAEL: And how would you say it’s helped you?
JAMES: I think it allowed me to really focus on building rapport and relationships with people. And NLP has both allowed me to pick on audio clues and visual clues. To really get a sense of peoples core values and identity. So that we can shape the offerings we have, so that we know that they’re aimed at the right areas that people want to improve.
MICHAEL: If I looked at it in three areas: Your current career; expanding the scope of your current career; or moving into new areas, which of those things do you think it’s helped more?
JAMES: I think it’s helped me in expanding my career in allowing me to take on new opportunities. I think in the sense that it’s allowed me to build relationships far quicker than if I didn’t have the skills. But it is also about understanding people. It’s allowed me to specialise in the area that I’m very passionate about – leadership. It has big implications for improvement in leadership in many areas. In building relationships and enabling people to see the benefit of communicating really well.
MICHAEL: What else, in addition to NLP, has helped you achieve what you achieved to-date?
JAMES: My drive and ambition is a big motivator for me. As well as taking responsibility for my own development. I come from a philosophy that things don’t come to you, you have to go looking for them. I work very hard on my own personal development programme. Working hard with external supplies like yourself, and working very closely with the company putting core business cases together. This enables me to broaden my career, broaden my experience and allows me to move on through AstraZeneca.
MICHAEL: What sort of things do you do differently now?
JAMES: The biggest area for me is listening to people, really listening, in order to understand people on a number of different levels. This includes body language, tone of voice, use of language and beliefs. This has enabled me to be really challenging in some areas. I think people find me challenging sometimes but in the end they see a huge benefit because it allows them to challenge some of their own behaviours and beliefs.
MICHAEL: If you looked back or you looked at somebody that was just about to start NLP and hadn’t yet been on a first course, what advice would you give them?
JAMES: I’m going to be really honest. I think the first thing I’d advise is just have a go!
I think from a corporate point of view NLP has sometimes some quite bad press. People don’t really understand what it’s about and they fill in the blanks without ever really trying it themselves.
So my advice to people is to actually have a go but also speak to some practitioners who really understand it and use it and have been successful. And then go to some taster evenings, like you do yourself, and really explore for yourself what it’s about.
I think there are some very good books to have a read through.
MICHAEL: If somebody had just finished an NLP training what advice would you give them as to how to use it or take it forward?
JAMES: The biggest advice I would give them is to continuously use it. It’s very easy to slip back into bad habits again when you get back into a work environment particularly if you’re in an organisation.
If you’re setting up on your own use your NLP skills in some form of interpersonal coaching to use those skills as quickly as possible. My other advice is you don’t need to label everything NLP. Use the tools and techniques that you’ve got from the experience and allow people to see the benefit it brings.
MICHAEL: Is there anything you would like to add before I ask for your contact details?
JAMES: The one thing I would say is I found all my NLP training extremely beneficial. And I use a lot of it today. And I would recommend everyone to have a go because they’ll get something from it.
MICHAEL: Can you give your contact details?
JAMES: My mobile number is: 07909934833.
MICHAEL: Thank you very much indeed.
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