Discovering Leadership: The State we’re in and the State within - a group relations conference

Conference overview

Organizational life is more complex and difficult than ever. Globalisation, technology, and the rapid pace of environmental change sets us in a context that is bewildering and frightening, but which offers great potential.


Political orthodoxies are being challenged. Unprecedented shifts in the cultural context are becoming the new normal. The culture wars are raging, between those concerned with the plight of the individual and the few, verses those who champion the politics of identity and fight for recognition, representation, and the needs of the group. In this context, how might we discover leadership with the knowledge that taking up one’s identity, and authority, inevitably positions not only oneself, but also others.

How can we consider our identities, roles, and relationships to leadership (both our own and others) in such a world?

How can we manage the relationship between internal states, including desires, doubts, ambitions, motivations, and dreams, with the world of systems, groups, categories, and others?

Is it possible to take a position without positioning others? And how do we respond to being positioned?

The organization has become the battle ground on which relationships between identity, leadership, and context takes place. It is in this zone that we might discover more about the relationship between internal and external states.

‘Discovering Leadership: The State we’re in and the State within’ is a four-day intensive group relations conference which offers the opportunity for a deep dive into the study of group and organizational dynamics, personal and group authority, and leadership, both its internal sources and its external application. The conference functions as a temporary organization which is co-created by staff and members within a carefully constructed design. The conference offers a space to experiment, play, learn, challenge and be challenged.  

The programme consists of a series of events that build on each other to allow members the space for exploration and cumulative learning.

The Intergroup Event starts with an opportunity to explore personal effectiveness in an interpersonal face-to-face group and goes on to explore dynamics arising between groups and within groups when linked to a wider system.  The event allows exploration of the experience of crossing group boundaries and the issues for an individual in representing one group to another group.

Large Study Group Meetings explore the organizational dynamics of the conference itself as an organization and the specific dynamics of membership and leadership within a large group.

The Organizational Event explores the boundary and dynamics between members and conference staff in a management role. This facilitates learning about issues that arise between those in authority and those who may perceive themselves as less powerful. The exercise of authority, leadership and creativity by both staff and members may also be studied.

This event has a unique second section which explores the dynamics of delegated authority, leadership and followership, and the management of resources.

Review and application Groups are provided to review the progress of members’ learning towards the end of the conference, with a focus on making links with members' own work environment in order that the learning may be applied after the conference.


The programme is designed as a whole. Applicants who cannot attend the whole programme should contact the Conference Administrator at the time of application.

This is a rewarding, but demanding programme and so applicants currently experiencing stressful circumstances such as divorce, bereavement or serious illness, are advised to attend at another time.

Please note the conference is non-residential.


Applications are welcome from anyone who is interested in understanding more about groups and organisations, working as leaders and managers or consultants in the public, private or independent sectors.  It is particularly relevant for anyone with an interest in exploring the nature of leadership. 

Leadership? Energy? Empowerment? Creativity? Co-operative endeavour? Infighting? Destructive competition? Lethargy? Cynicism?

How many of these describe your organisation, or the organisations you work with?

How does leadership emerge in an organisation?

Do you understand how organisations work below the surface and what you might do to make them work more effectively?

Whether your pre-occupation is culture change at a macro level in the private sector, working more effectively with your team in the NHS, or a wish to help promote creativity, this Group Relations Conference could help you take up your role differently, be a better leader, and develop an unfolding sense of organisations, and the part you, and we all, play.

A group relations conference is a personal development programme, which aims to increase personal effectiveness in any organisational role.  Development happens through experiential learning - that is, learning from the immediate experience of participation in, and reflection on, the conference events.

This particular conference will offer participants an opportunity to discover what may underpin leadership effectiveness at personal, group and organisational levels.  The method is not one of conventional conferences.  The conference is designed to be a miniature organisation in which a range of events take place that mirror typical organisational situations and in which you will experience leadership and followership in unrehearsed ways, in different group configurations.

The primary task of these activities is to study organisational behaviour as it happens.  This creates a continuous process of feedback about organisational behaviour from staff and other participants. Issues are explored in relation to awareness of the impact of self on others and the impact of others on self, leadership, followership, group membership, lateral and vertical collaboration, delegation and representative roles.

'Amazing experience. More learning done on the conference than I ever could have imagined in relation to group dynamics as a whole, my role in groups, how I conduct myself and how all of this applies to my work with children and families.'

'I found the experience to be a deeply intense representation of the true challenges to joining with others. It gave me some profound ideas about myself and what I bring to my work, for better or worse. And overall, despite feeling worn out, the conference increased the awareness I have of myself when in groups, personally and professionally, which is beginning to really help me.'

'I felt overall I learnt a lot from the conference....though this was more to do with my relationship to power and authority than the emotional impact of our work...'

I found the conference was very thought provoking and I felt emotionally charged by it. It has left me thinking more deeply about my own role, my work and the impact on my clients. I appreciate having this opportunity to be guided through so many complex issues by the consultants...

The conference fee is:        

£ 580 (Student fee)           

£650 (Non-student fee/External)

For more information on fees please contact the conference administrator at

If you are an independent applicant, then you may be eligible to apply for a reduced group fee:


If three people attend from the same organisation:           £580 per member

If 4-6 people attend from the same organisation:              £550 per member

If 7-8 people attend from the same organisation:              £500 per member

Applications are open now – please download the application form.

Course tutor, Ben Neal.

Ben is a management and leadership coach, and organisational consultant, with over fifteen years of experience. A specialist clinical practitioner, with experience in a number of clinical roles in the NHS, he has worked with leaders and managers who work with and deliver services to some of the most demanding and vulnerable demographics in society.

Ben moved into the field of consulting and coaching in 2010. Since then he has worked extensively across voluntary, public, and private sectors, with clients ranging from celebrity chefs and authors to executives running gold mining operations in South Africa.

He is a visiting lecturer on the MA in Consulting and Leading in Organizations and the Educational Psychology Doctorate Programme at the Tavistock.

The Tavistock Centre, London
2 September 2019 11:11 to 5 September 2019 11:12

Download Application form

Apply now