Find out how FIRO insights boosted cross-cultural teamwork

Founded as a non-profit organisation in North Carolina (USA) by Smith Richardson in 1970, CCL specialises in leadership solutions and organisational development. The company currently employs around 450 faculty and staff members in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Africa, and has developed leaders from more than 120 countries. Based on direct feedback and results, CCL has been ranked by the Financial Times and Bloomberg Business Week as one of the world’s top 10 providers of executive education. CCL was the only non-business school to achieve this position.

Since its founding, CCL has offered executive development solutions to meet the needs of businesses and organisations of all sizes. It presents leaders with open enrolment programmes, focusing on self-development in such areas as enhancing self-awareness, learning to understand other people better, and flexing leadership styles to meet personal needs and the needs of others.
Focusing on self-development for leaders, CCL has chosen the FIRO-B instrument as one of their most frequently tools in CCL’s open enrolment programmes.
Nigel Murphy, Faculty Development Manager at CCL is convinced that FIRO-B provides important insights to leaders. “Leadership is about the whole self, and the FIRO framework complements this belief”, he says.

Nigel is responsible for delivering open enrolment programmes across the Europe, Middle East and Africa region for participants from over 3000 businesses. As a result of his professional experience across such a diverse region, Nigel has witnessed a tremendous range of different cultural perspectives on human behaviour. He says it is the way the FIRO framework looks at the individual’s personal needs and how these influence relationships that makes it is such a rich source of help in understanding these different behavioural expressions.

The FIRO approach is introduced early in CCL’s open enrolment courses, giving participants plenty of time to explore and develop their understanding of the tool and the positive impact it can have on their personal leadership at work. During the courses, participants work with the tool in both small groups and one-to-one sessions.

“It is this layering of exposure and coaching support that adds to the power of FIRO-B”, explains Nigel.

In addition to examples from CCL’s consultant about the positive impact of FIRO-B, feedback from participants reveals that FIRO-derived insights give people a deeper understanding of what they need from interpersonal relationships, and how needs are expressed in cross-cultural differences.

Nigel is pleased with the outcomes of using the instrument as one of the tools within CCL’s open enrolment programmes.

“FIRO-B is an essential part of many of our leadership development solutions” he says. “There is always room for trait-based tools and an increase in the popularity of neuro-scientific tools, but even so FIRO-B gives participants in our courses an eye-opening view of their interpersonal needs in three easy to use dimensions”.

One of the benefits of the FIRO framework is the way it fosters self-awareness. Nigel comments:

“This heightened self-awareness means a leader will know when to step back and notice their own reactions and behaviours to situations, and take a moment to consider the best action to take.”

Furthermore, the FIRO lens adds a different dimension, in comparison to other instruments, as it encourages participants to discuss and disclose their interpersonal relationships.

“Discussing their relationships can lead to some very deep and significant self-reflection and comparisons”, notes Nigel.

Embedding FIRO as one of the key instruments in CCL’s enrolment programmes has resulted in pragmatic outcomes for the participants.

“People taking part in the programmes have found the concept of expressed and wanted needs helpful in explaining the behaviours of their team members back at work”, Nigel comments, “as they have to slow down and stop and think about their team on a different level.”

The FIRO instrument has also been highly effective in solving leadership challenges in relation to different cultures. Nigel gives an example of how cross cultural differences could be explored:

“A Saudi male from a Saudi organisation and a French female from a French organisation tend to perceive ‘control’ in different ways. This is where FIRO–B is such rich source of help, as it offers participants from different cultural backgrounds an understanding that even though cultural expressions of behaviours may differ, the underlying needs are the same.”

The user-friendliness of the FIRO tool, with its easy-to-apply framework, has seen participants take the instrument back to their organisations and apply it with their teams and HR business partners, to the benefit of everyone concerned.
We find human needs transcend culture; however, the behavioural expressions of these vary, and this is where FIRO-B is such a rich source of help

Nigel MurphyFaculty Development Manager. CCL