What’s more important for leaders, goal setting, or the inner compass to stay the course?

What’s more important for leaders, goal setting, or the inner compass to stay the course?

Helen McKelvie

Will Inner Development Goals replace traditional goal-setting?

Helen McKelvie

What’s more important for leaders, goal setting, or the inner compass to stay the course?

Introducing Inner Development Goals

As a leader in an organisation, you might experience the act of setting goals as what’s important to direct your steps and those of the teams you lead. The idea that goals fill us with inspiration and propel us to great achievements is an assumption sitting behind an ever-increasing number of frameworks available to guide this activity in management literature. “Make sure your goals are ‘SMART’ (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound)” is a widely adopted recommendation. More recently setting ‘Big hairy audacious goals’ (BHAG) is a favoured approach for motivating and aligning teams towards a common vision. But perhaps goals, whether they are smart or big and hairy, are not what keep us on track?

The shadow side of goal-setting

Researchers at Harvard Business School have contributed to a much less popular discourse on the shadow side of goal setting. They argue that the beneficial effects of goal setting have been overstated and that systematic harm caused by goal setting has been largely ignored. Their research identified specific side effects associated with goal setting, including a narrow focus that neglects non-goal areas, a rise in unethical behaviour, distorted risk preferences, corrosion of organizational culture, and reduced intrinsic motivation. The authors suggest that leaders and managers need to consider the complex interplay between goal setting and organizational contexts, as well as the need for safeguards and monitoring.

When we are unable to meet them, instead of being inspirational, goals can feel defeating

In my own working life, I’ve both participated in and led planning processes focussed on goal setting. Working in organisations I’ve also found taking action towards specific goals can sometimes be difficult. When the action steps to meet set goals are not part of BAU it can be hard to devote the required time; and when circumstances change and new competing priorities emerge what seemed like clear goals become murky and a sense of overwhelm sets in. When we are unable to meet them, instead of being inspirational, goals can feel defeating, like a measure of what we have failed to achieve. This seems to be true in organisational settings and in bigger contexts such as collective efforts to combat global issues.

Slow progress on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015 the United Nations goal setting was aiming high, introducing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a holistic blueprint for achieving global sustainability by 2030. The set of 17 interconnected goals aims to address social, economic, and environmental challenges by promoting actions such as poverty eradication, hunger alleviation, gender equality, climate action, sustainable cities, and partnerships for sustainable development, among others. I remember feeling inspired when the SDGs were announced. The vision created by the SDGs in 2015 seemed to provide a path forward. However, the actual progress toward attaining the vision has been dishearteningly slow.

New hope with Inner Development Goals

Recently when a colleague in Europe mentioned the Inner Development Goals (IDGs), I went looking and had reason to feel a renewed hope. The IDG’s aim to address the main obstacle to achieving the SDGs: a collective deficiency in coping with the escalating complexity of our environment and the associated challenges. Seems like that familiar overwhelm leading to inaction. The Inner Development Goal initiative offers a framework of essential skills for sustainable development; it encompasses five dimensions and 23 skills and qualities crucial for leaders addressing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and for individuals worldwide. They are based on research demonstrating that the inner capacities required for addressing these complexities can be cultivated. The IDG framework is gaining traction in Europe including via three MindShift – Growth that Matters conferences that have been conducted with 3000+ active participants.

Inner growth is at the heart of the Inner Development Goal framework; the first of the five dimensions is ‘Being – Relationship to self’, with the related skills:

Inner Compass
Having a deeply felt sense of responsibility and commitment to values and purposes relating to the good of the whole.

Integrity and Authenticity
A commitment and ability to act with sincerity, honesty and integrity.

Openness and Learning Mindset
Having a basic mindset of curiosity and a willingness to be vulnerable and embrace change and grow.

Self-awareness
Ability to be in reflective contact with own thoughts, feelings and desires; having a realistic self-image and ability to regulate oneself.

Presence
Ability to be in the here and now, without judgement and in a state of open-ended presence.

It makes sense to build the inner capacity of leaders to be able to sit with uncertainty, to think through overwhelm and to keep working towards and adapting goals as change happens. To my mind, this is part of “considering the complex interplay between goal setting and organizational contexts” as the Harvard research (above) recommends.

Leadership development for an inner compass

The Inner Development Goal approach resonates strongly with the leadership development work we do at NIODA. We hold that as a leader, knowing yourself and getting in touch with the conscious and unconscious drivers of your own behaviour underpins the capacity for managing yourself in your leadership role, and being able to lead others from a place of authenticity. One approach we use with our students and clients is to hold a space for inquiry into each person’s unique personal leadership history allowing connections to be made between past experience and present role challenges. This is just one powerful tool for growth and development of the inner compass needed to navigate the complexities of contemporary organisations, and as with the IDG’s, bigger world problems.

At NIODA we are interested to learn more about the Inner Development Goals and the non-profit foundation that is working with leadership development experts, scientists, practitioners, and organisations globally to explore, gather, and disseminate evidence-based skills and qualities that enhance the ability to lead purposeful, sustainable, and fulfilling lives. This is important work keeping the Sustainable Development Goals alive and hopefully more attainable.

NIODA’s related contribution is to continue to offer a post-graduate leadership and management course that goes deeper than a motivational goal-setting approach. The courses take a psychodynamic view of human behaviour. Students develop insights into individual and group behaviour and how to apply these to create meaningful change in the workplace – finding ways to deal with the overwhelm and consider the context for goal setting and much more. Learn more

We also offer a series of leadership development workshops, starting with one for emerging leaders to develop that inner compass by ‘Embracing your personal history for impactful leadership’. Learn more

Helen McKelvie

August 2023

What’s more important for leaders, goal setting, or the inner compass to stay the course?

Helen McKelvie

Helen McKelvie

Director of Leadership Development & Consulting, NIODA

Helen McKelvie is the Director of Leadership development & Consulting at NIODA, and is a teacher in and a graduate of the Master of Leadership and Management (Organisation Dynamics) program. She brings over 25 years of her own experience of working in organisations to her coaching and consulting services in leadership development and organisational change. Roles as internal consultant, policy and project manager, and lawyer in workplaces in both the public and private sectors have provided her with first-hand experience of the complexity and challenges in organisational life.
Helen is passionate about improving workplace dynamics to contribute to better organisational outcomes and to benefit the working lives of those who make up organisations. She works with leaders and teams helping them enquire into workplace dilemmas to uncover and work with system issues and hidden dynamics that may be inhibiting role clarity and collaborative work. Helen uses a systems psychodynamic approach to create reflective space for respectful communication and connection, opening up possibility for greater alignment with organisational, and team role and purpose.

About NIODA

The National Institute of Organisation Dynamics Australia (NIODA) offers internationally renowned post-graduate education and research in organisation dynamics, and decades of experience consulting with Australian organisations. 

The study of organisation dynamics brings together socio-technical and psychoanalytic disciplines to explore the unconscious dynamics that exist in every group, team or organisation. Learning more about these theories, and reflecting on the experience of them, can support leaders and managers to unlock great potential in their organisations, tackling issues through a whole new light.

PO Box 287, Collins Street West,
Melbourne  8007  Australia
+61 (0) 414 529 867
info@nioda.org.au

NIODA acknowledges the Kulin Nations, and respective Traditional Custodians of the lands we work on.
We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and recognise their enduring sovereignty which has, and continues to, care for Country.
NIODA welcomes the Uluru Statement from the Heart’s invitation to walk with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in a collective movement for a better future.

Leadership and management superpowers

Leadership and management superpowers

Helen McKelvie

Leadership and management superpowers

Ms Helen McKelvie

Thinking systemically and understanding organisation dynamics
can be leadership and management superpowers.

NIODA students certainly think so, with a 100% satisfaction rate for the Master of Leadership and Management (Organisation Dynamics) course. They know first-hand that being an organisational leader or managing a team can be enormously satisfying but equally can be frustrating and confusing. Why do smart, sensible people behave irrationally? Why does competition seem to outweigh collaboration? Why is it so hard to shift a toxic work culture? If, as neuroscientists are telling us, 95% of our brain activity is unconscious (Young 2018), then perhaps it’s little wonder these are the sorts of confounding questions preoccupying leaders and managers. How well equipped are most of us to make sense of the paradoxes and irrationality that are regular features of work life? How able are we to just ‘get on with the job’ when we are not aware of so much of what is occurring?

How well-equipped are most of us to make sense of the paradoxes
and irrationality that are regular features of work life?

Business degrees typically cover disciplines such as finance, marketing, operations, strategy and leadership and are designed to equip graduates to take on managerial and leadership roles. Taking a rational, cognitive approach to analysis, problem-solving, and decision-making is valued alongside developing effective teamwork and communication skills. However, this approach on its own is not enough when people and workplace dilemmas don’t respond to logical formulas, when emotions are running high and the capacity for coming up with sound and strategic business solutions is overwhelmed.

Applying an organisation dynamics lens

This is when taking a systems perspective and applying an organisation dynamics lens will help. Having an approach to discerning what might be really going on can feel like having secret superpowers for finding a way through the maze of workplace complexities.

The discipline of ‘systems psychodynamics’ is at the core of the National Institute of Organisation Dynamics Australia (NIODA)’s post-graduate degrees in Leadership and Management (Organisation Dynamics). Founded in 2010 for the purpose of providing high-quality education in systems psychodynamic approaches, NIODA builds on and continues the world-class programs first delivered at Swinburne University and then at RMIT University.

Study designed for work-experienced professionals

NIODA’s Master of Leadership and Management (Organisation Dynamics) is designed for experienced professionals who wish to develop their leadership and managerial capacities. In this world-renowned work-integrated program you learn to:
– analyse, understand and manage ‘below the surface’ group and organisational dynamics in organisations
– identify blockers to change due to structure, culture and technology
– work with the emotional labour of leading complex systems in fast-changing environments.

This part-time course supports the development of individual capacities to shape and take up work roles that are meaningful, values-based, and which serve the ultimate purpose of the organisation. It provides industry-relevant, post-graduate education grounded in rigorous conceptual development and work experience and provides opportunities for engagement with real-world learning in a social and global context.

Reflecting on study at NIODA with graduate, Laurette Chang-Leng

It is so rewarding to hear about how this is being applied by a NIODA graduate who has taken up the option of a continuing professional development subscription with NIODA. I find it such a privilege to think with Laurette about her work and carry on exploring how the concepts and skills learned in the NIODA course can be applied in the workplace.

“I’m more comfortable with the complexity, I embrace ‘not knowing’ and observe what is emergent.”

– NIODA MLM(OD) Graduate, Laurette Chang-Leng

We recently reflected on how Laurette now takes up her role managing large and complex transformation projects as compared to when she came to NIODA. “In some ways, not much has changed, except for one major thing: my attitude and the perspective I bring… large, big-budget projects still have the feeling of being impossible, but now I’m more comfortable with the complexity, I embrace ‘not knowing’ and observe what is emergent. I sit back and think when others are focused on charging ahead, even when the train is heading for derailment! I have the confidence to call it out, and I am listened to – especially because I know the value of a good metaphor!” (an early subject in the course puts a spotlight on the ways in which metaphors are used in management practice and how working with them opens up understanding and new possibilities.)

Laurette and I also talked about the benefit of knowing about her own, what we call, ‘valences’ (predispositions) or what she is bringing into work encounters and what gets triggered for her. “I’m much more in tune with what’s mine and what’s not” – what belongs to the organisational system and others within it. This echoes something I wrote a couple of years ago: The course supports you to locate and integrate learning about yourself, who you are, where you have come from and all the ‘selves’ you are bringing with you to work.

I see the fruits of this self-knowledge all the time in our supervision sessions. Laurette has a courage and a curiosity for reflecting on roles, and what is being avoided or defended against. It is so exciting to witness how she is building the capacity to take up bigger roles, for fostering healthier dynamics, and creating a more effective and resilient team and organisation.

Postgraduate study with 100% student satisfaction

Laurette is just one of the many students who have valued learning with NIODA. We are proud of the 100% overall student satisfaction rating we have gained in the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT). QILT is a suite of government-endorsed surveys for higher education that NIODA has participated in since 2021. Currently, all 41 Australian universities and around 90 non-university higher education providers take part in the surveys. Over the two years of our participation, our students reported higher levels of satisfaction than the QILT national averages on key indicators including: learner engagement (NIODA received 97% compared with the national average of 42%), teaching quality (97% compared with 78%) and student support (97% compared with 74%). As institutes of higher education go, NIODA is small, but punching above its weight with these teaching and learning outcomes.

Helen McKelvie

June 2023

If you’re interested in knowing more about studying system psychodynamics and developing leadership and management superpowers, enrolments are open for our mid-year intake. We also have preview sessions coming up soon.

Young, E. (2018). Lifting the Lid on the Unconscious, New Scientist, Viewed 20 June 2023, https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23931880-400-lifting-the-lid-on-the-unconscious.

Leadership and management superpowers

Helen McKelvie

Helen McKelvie

Director of Leadership Development & Consulting, NIODA

Helen McKelvie is the Director of Leadership development & Consulting at NIODA, and is a teacher in and a graduate of the Master of Leadership and Management (Organisation Dynamics) program. She brings over 25 years of her own experience of working in organisations to her coaching and consulting services in leadership development and organisational change. Roles as internal consultant, policy and project manager, and lawyer in workplaces in both the public and private sectors have provided her with first-hand experience of the complexity and challenges in organisational life.
Helen is passionate about improving workplace dynamics to contribute to better organisational outcomes and to benefit the working lives of those who make up organisations. She works with leaders and teams helping them enquire into workplace dilemmas to uncover and work with system issues and hidden dynamics that may be inhibiting role clarity and collaborative work. Helen uses a systems psychodynamic approach to create reflective space for respectful communication and connection, opening up possibility for greater alignment with organisational, and team role and purpose.

About NIODA

The National Institute of Organisation Dynamics Australia (NIODA) offers internationally renowned post-graduate education and research in organisation dynamics, and decades of experience consulting with Australian organisations. 

The study of organisation dynamics brings together socio-technical and psychoanalytic disciplines to explore the unconscious dynamics that exist in every group, team or organisation. Learning more about these theories, and reflecting on the experience of them, can support leaders and managers to unlock great potential in their organisations, tackling issues through a whole new light.

PO Box 287, Collins Street West,
Melbourne  8007  Australia
+61 (0) 414 529 867
info@nioda.org.au

NIODA acknowledges the Kulin Nations, and respective Traditional Custodians of the lands we work on.
We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and recognise their enduring sovereignty which has, and continues to, care for Country.
NIODA welcomes the Uluru Statement from the Heart’s invitation to walk with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in a collective movement for a better future.

How to lead and manage in the hybrid workplace

How to lead and manage in the hybrid workplace

Helen McKelvie

How to lead and manage in the hybrid workplace

Helen McKelvie

How to lead and manage in the hybrid workplace

I keep hearing how it’s a tough gig being a people manager right now. Sustained challenges from the COVID pandemic have left many leaders smashed and exhausted. It can feel like all four of the VUCA elements (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) have become ubiquitous and are impacting everyday decision-making, not just long-term planning. For those who were full-time in the office with their teams, there are now the added ongoing complexities of managing a hybrid workplace as the new normal. Continuing the flexibility around working from home means dispersed teams; building and maintaining trust and connection has become harder. Finding the balance is not easy.

Staff well-being has been a high priority during and post-pandemic, and will always be important. But as business demands increase, leaders are under the pump to deliver and may be suffering ‘compassion fatigue’. Managers are faced with the difficulty of adjusting the implicit messaging for their staff from “we’ll look after you” and “we can be just as productive at home” to “we can’t make everything right, we just need you to do your job” and “flexibility is good but you have to come into the office at least some of the time”. Having the confidence to lead in the hybrid workplace is tricky when critical staff networks have been disrupted, and lines of authority blurred by remote working. With everyone recalibrating, including top-level executives, people managers are left to figure out how to make these new arrangements not only workable but optimal to meet organisational expectations.

Leeds University research has uncovered a huge training need: 74% of office workers surveyed would like to receive training for hybrid working, yet only 8.5% had received any specific training for hybrid meetings (a key employee concern of hybrid working). Hybrid working is a distinct way of working, and investment in support and training is crucial to help employees and managers to thrive in the new workplace.

The research identified that when employees had a choice over where to work within a workspace they reported a whole range of positives, demonstrating the value of designing with more discretion for workers to decide how, when and where to get tasks done. The challenge for managers is to reconsider their role, particularly in relation to authority and responsibility, around employees’ expectations for greater self-management. Managers can also learn to pay attention to supporting social networks in the hybrid workplace, and to developing a sense of belonging and identity in their staff, especially for new starters. Learning to consider the team as a network or system helps managers recognise the location in the network of new and diverse employees. (Davis, M.C., Collis, H., Hughes, H.P.N., Wu, C., Gritt, E., Fang, L., Iqbal, A. & Rees, S.J. (2022) Where is your office today? New insights on employee behaviour and social networks. Leeds, UK: University of Leeds)

Helen McKelvie

May 2023

Is trauma causing your toxic work environment?

ps If you’re a people manager who would like some support in your role in the hybrid workplace NIODA is offering a new workshop series ‘Optimising the New Normal’. The workshops aim to enhance capacity to manage the work boundaries relating to staff well-being and safety in the hybrid workplace; and to provide the sense of containment from leadership that has been compromised or lost in the move to working across onsite and online spaces.

How to lead and manage in the hybrid workplace

Helen McKelvie

Helen McKelvie

Director of Leadership Development & Consulting, NIODA

Helen McKelvie is the Director of Leadership development & Consulting at NIODA, and is a teacher in and a graduate of the Master of Leadership and Management (Organisation Dynamics) program. She brings over 25 years of her own experience of working in organisations to her coaching and consulting services in leadership development and organisational change. Roles as internal consultant, policy and project manager, and lawyer in workplaces in both the public and private sectors have provided her with first-hand experience of the complexity and challenges in organisational life.
Helen is passionate about improving workplace dynamics to contribute to better organisational outcomes and to benefit the working lives of those who make up organisations. She works with leaders and teams helping them enquire into workplace dilemmas to uncover and work with system issues and hidden dynamics that may be inhibiting role clarity and collaborative work. Helen uses a systems psychodynamic approach to create reflective space for respectful communication and connection, opening up possibility for greater alignment with organisational, and team role and purpose.

About NIODA

The National Institute of Organisation Dynamics Australia (NIODA) offers internationally renowned post-graduate education and research in organisation dynamics, and decades of experience consulting with Australian organisations. 

The study of organisation dynamics brings together socio-technical and psychoanalytic disciplines to explore the unconscious dynamics that exist in every group, team or organisation. Learning more about these theories, and reflecting on the experience of them, can support leaders and managers to unlock great potential in their organisations, tackling issues through a whole new light.

PO Box 287, Collins Street West,
Melbourne  8007  Australia
+61 (0) 414 529 867
info@nioda.org.au

NIODA acknowledges the Kulin Nations, and respective Traditional Custodians of the lands we work on.
We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and recognise their enduring sovereignty which has, and continues to, care for Country.
NIODA welcomes the Uluru Statement from the Heart’s invitation to walk with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in a collective movement for a better future.

Is trauma causing your toxic work environment?

Is trauma causing your toxic work environment?

Helen McKelvie

Is trauma causing your toxic work environment?

Helen McKelvie

Is trauma causing your toxic work environment?

Organisations with structures and cultures that seem to perpetuate cycles of dysfunction and distress is something we hear about in our work at NIODA. Even as successive leaders and staff churn through, incidents of workplace bullying, toxic work environment, or ineffective leadership seem to recur. Re-structures and culture change efforts have little appreciable effect. Indeed, sometimes they have created more challenges.

A useful lens to apply to such long running issues can be that of intergenerational trauma: the transmission of the effects of trauma from one generation to the next. Psychiatrists and researchers tell us that a traumatic event, or the cumulative effects of traumatic stress, can create a ‘wounding’ psychologically, emotionally or physically that is experienced across generations. Trauma experts talk of trauma as “contagious”. Family members, workplaces and communities, share the same culture, the same environment, the same traumas, and so are vulnerable to the same or similar reactions. In this way underlying traumatic wounds shape the trajectories of successive generations.

Vamik Volkan, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, has extensively studied the impact of trauma on large groups, particularly in the context of societal conflicts and historical events (2004, 2017). He argues that collective trauma can become embedded within a group’s cultural identity and can be transmitted across generations, shaping the group’s beliefs, values, and behaviours. Volkan notes that large groups often use symbolism and mythology to construct narratives around traumatic events, which can serve as a way of processing and making sense of the trauma. However, these narratives can also contribute to the perpetuation of intergenerational trauma if they reinforce a victim mentality or justify aggression towards others.

Healing from intergenerational trauma involves recognising the impact of trauma and providing support that addresses the unique needs of the individuals and communities. To address the impact of trauma on large groups, Volkan emphasises the importance of promoting empathy and understanding between different groups. He suggests that by creating opportunities for dialogue and promoting a culture of acceptance and tolerance, groups can break free from cycles of conflict and trauma and move towards a more peaceful and resilient future.

One key element in healing from intergenerational trauma is acknowledging its existence and understanding how it has impacted individuals and communities. In Australia it feels like we are starting to do this work between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, with the ongoing trauma of colonisation being acknowledged and the intergenerational effects recognised. In Victoria the Yoorook Justice Commission is undertaking Australia’s first formal truth-telling process into historical and ongoing injustices experienced by our First Peoples. The Commission’s mandate is to: establish an official record of the impact of colonisation on Traditional Owners and First Peoples in Victoria; develop a shared understanding among all Victorians of the impact of colonisation, as well as the diversity, strength and resilience of First Peoples’ cultures; and to make recommendations for healing, system reform and practical changes to laws, policy and education, as well as to matters to be included in future treaties.

A small (non-Aboriginal) group made up of NIODA staff, Board members and close associates have been attentively following the Yoorook hearings; a fortnightly zoom gathering is spent listening deeply to the witness stories that are posted on the Commission’s website, and exploring the group members’ experience of the listening process. This has become important work for the individuals in the group, creating a ‘potential space’, a safe environment for exploring difficult feelings and where creative and adaptive responses are possible. For NIODA, the learning from this potential space is informing the work we will do under our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), which has recently been approved by Reconciliation Australia. We are keen to play our part in helping to heal the intergenerational trauma borne by our First Peoples and which holds us all back as a country. We hope to write more about what’s happening with our RAP soon.

Another initiative for understanding and working with intergenerational trauma is an upcoming workshop series we are hosting at NIODA: “Through trauma towards creative innovations”. The workshops will be run by two eminent practitioners in our field, Jerry Fromm and Richard Morgan-Jones, and is closely informed by Jerry’s recent book: “Traveling Through Time: How Trauma Plays Itself Out in Families, Organizations and Society”. The book explores the impact of trauma on individuals, families, and larger social systems. It also examines the ways in which trauma affects organisations, such as schools and businesses, and how these institutions can respond to trauma in healthy and constructive ways.

The workshops, held in six sessions over three weeks (April – May), will explore the nature of trauma, and create the space for participants to engage in (im)possible dialogues, which may be between parts of the self, between groups or between generations, and the way in which trauma shapes large group identity. There will also be opportunity to contemplate creative innovations and new beginnings, through the establishment of potential space and some of the dynamics that occur within it. The experiential parts of the workshop will utilise the method Richard developed to help individuals and organisations identify and navigate their underlying motivations, values, and beliefs, the ‘Trilogy Matrix Event’. This method offers a potential integration of perspectives from across individual, group and contextual dynamics.

This workshop series will be a safely held space to explore painful truths about the ways in which trauma can shape family and organisational dynamics, cultural practices, and social systems. We warmly invite you to join us for this powerful work. It is a chance to develop our understanding of ourselves and our skills for uncovering and working with the intergenerational trauma that may be at the heart of recurrent cycles of dysfunction in the organisations and communities we work with.

Is trauma causing your toxic work environment? For innovative trauma-informed solutions, join us for the NIODA workshop series here: “Through trauma towards creative innovations”.

Vamik Volkan’s work:
Blind Trust: Large Groups and Their Leaders in Times of Crisis and Terror (2004)
Enemies on the Couch: A Psychopolitical Journey Through War and Peace (2017)

Helen McKelvie

April 2023

Is trauma causing your toxic work environment?

Is trauma causing your toxic work environment?

Helen McKelvie

Helen McKelvie

Learning Activities Lead, NIODA

Helen McKelvie is the Learning Activities Lead and a member of the Executive at NIODA, and is a teacher in and a graduate of the Master of Leadership and Management (Organisation Dynamics) program. She brings over 25 years of her own experience of working in organisations to her coaching and consulting services in leadership development and organisational change. Roles as internal consultant, policy and project manager, and lawyer in workplaces in both the public and private sectors have provided her with first-hand experience of the complexity and challenges in organisational life.
Helen is passionate about improving workplace dynamics to contribute to better organisational outcomes and to benefit the working lives of those who make up organisations. She works with leaders and teams helping them enquire into workplace dilemmas to uncover and work with system issues and hidden dynamics that may be inhibiting role clarity and collaborative work. Helen uses a systems psychodynamic approach to create reflective space for respectful communication and connection, opening up possibility for greater alignment with organisational, and team role and purpose.

Is trauma causing your toxic work environment?

About NIODA

The National Institute of Organisation Dynamics Australia (NIODA) offers internationally renowned post-graduate education and research in organisation dynamics, and decades of experience consulting with Australian organisations. 

The study of organisation dynamics brings together socio-technical and psychoanalytic disciplines to explore the unconscious dynamics that exist in every group, team or organisation. Learning more about these theories, and reflecting on the experience of them, can support leaders and managers to unlock great potential in their organisations, tackling issues through a whole new light.

PO Box 287, Collins Street West,
Melbourne  8007  Australia
+61 (0) 414 529 867
info@nioda.org.au

NIODA acknowledges the Kulin Nations, and respective Traditional Custodians of the lands we work on.
We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and recognise their enduring sovereignty which has, and continues to, care for Country.
NIODA welcomes the Uluru Statement from the Heart’s invitation to walk with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in a collective movement for a better future.

What’s different about doing a leadership and management masters at NIODA

What’s different about doing a leadership and management masters at NIODA

What’s different about doing a leadership and management masters at NIODA?

What’s different about doing a leadership and management masters at NIODA?

What’s different about doing a leadership and management masters at NIODA?

At the National Institute of Organisation Dynamics Australia (NIODA) we get to know and value each of the students who take on the three years of academic and experiential learning with us. Our class sizes are small, consequently, our graduation ceremonies aren’t long lists of names in enormous halls, they feel pretty special, and each graduand has time to give a brief speech. The reflections on the student experience and what it means to have taken the journey to ‘mastery’ in organisation dynamics often include an appreciation for the teachers and the learning environment NIODA creates. Partners, children, friends and colleagues are thanked for their support; it’s no small thing to do study on top of work, family and other commitments.

Another incredibly consistent theme in the speeches is captured by the phrase, “I have learned so much about myself”. To me, this is the cornerstone of the NIODA masters program, the opportunity to gain self-knowledge alongside the systems psychodynamic theory and to use it at work and in life. It’s what gives those who have undertaken the study such a deep sense of achievement.

So much of tertiary education is just about gaining technical expertise. Leadership and management are understood by many to be skills that are acquired or behaviours that can be applied, like mathematical formulae, to lead to predictable outcomes; as if there is some magical guarantee of success that will ‘give you the edge’ when applying for new roles or stepping up in your current one. Many NIODA students have already come to the realisation that this isn’t the case. They are frustrated and seeking answers to why management and leadership formulas don’t work, suspecting there is more to learn. They come wanting to know how to make sense of what’s happening at work and to make things better for their team, their workplace, their sector, their community, and their society. They want to understand the systemic and environmental picture and what is going on below the surface.

The lens needed to see these pictures starts with you and the ancient greek aphorism is apt:
‘Know thyself’. Perhaps ‘knowing thyself’ is not what is top of mind when you are considering a professional masters in management and leadership because it sounds more like the motivation to pursue a self-help agenda. But, as all the students discover, it is an unavoidable by-product of the NIODA masters.

The program helps you to locate and integrate the learning about yourself, who you are, where you have come from and all the ‘selves’ you are bringing with you to work. 

Feedback during a review session with first-year students who had just completed one of the foundational subjects ‘Through a cultural lens, collaborating with “the other” at work’, included, “You should have warned us that this subject is all about us.” There are a few clues in the subject title – how else to know, appreciate and collaborate with others who are different without first knowing one’s own culture, knowing oneself? I appreciated that there was a lot wrapped into the student’s comment. I understood it as: ‘we do this learning about ourselves with and through the others in the class’; ‘it’s not easy to look at oneself, it can be painful’; and as the teacher, I was being reminded that this learning needs a good container for processing the sometimes difficult emotional reactions and group dynamics that emerge.

The NIODA leadership and management masters program is not group therapy. There is learning in and about the group through reading theoretical papers, experiential learning activities, research and case studies and in writing papers that draw on data that is in you. The program helps you to locate and integrate the learning about yourself, who you are, where you have come from and all the ‘selves’ you are bringing with you to work. From this vantage point organisation dynamics, the conscious and unconscious behaviours and what might be influencing them becomes clearer. Leadership and management, helping others, becomes more possible.

I’m looking forward to getting to know a new cohort of students in the year ahead. If you want to know more about the program and how to apply click here.

 

Helen McKelvie

Helen McKelvie
NIODA graduate and member of the teaching faculty

2 February 2021

What’s different about doing a leadership and management masters at NIODA? 

ps Are you a leader or manager and would like to learn more this master which is not like some other ‘get and forget’ qualification? Have a look at the NIODA Master of Leadership and Management (Organisation Dynamics) course.

What’s different about doing a leadership and management masters at NIODA?

 

 

 

About NIODA

The National Institute of Organisation Dynamics Australia (NIODA) offers internationally renowned post-graduate education and research, and decades of experience consulting with Australian organisations.

The study of organisation dynamics brings together socio-technical and psychoanalytic disciplines to explore the unconscious dynamics that exist in every group, team or organisation. Learning more about these theories, and reflecting on the experience of them, can support leaders and managers to unlock great potential in their organisations, tackling issues through a whole new light.

Get In Touch

PO box 287, Collins Street West,
Melbourne  8007  Australia
+61 414 529 867
info@nioda.org.au

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