Group relations and leadership training at the Leicester Conference

Posted by pm357 at Oct 12, 2018 09:30 AM |
Ibrahim Murad, Leicester MBA alumnus attends the Leicester Conference
Group relations and leadership training at the Leicester Conference

Ibrahim Murad

Since 2016, the University of Leicester School of Business (ULSB) has been sponsoring staff to attend the Leicester Conference. Organised by The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations, it is an internationally renowned flagship event for Group Relations conferences, held in Leicester at College Court. The School’s academic expertise closely matches the objectives of the Tavistock Institute, with ULSB seeking to re-energise the long-standing relationship between the Tavistock Institute and the University of Leicester.

The 2018 conference was conducted under the title of “Task, Authority and Organisation”, and participants were encouraged to concentrate on the “here and now”. The Leicester Conference is set up as a temporary institution with a director and staff (consultants). At the Opening Plenary the Director of the Leicester Conference, Dr Leslie Brissett, explained that the primary task for participants was “to study the exercise of authority in the taking up of roles through the interpersonal, inter-group and institutional relations that develop within the conference as an organisation within its wider context.”

The format of the conference is challenging and it makes no compromises in its promotional messaging. Participants are expected to commit to 14 days of residential experiential learning. The onus is on participants to be open, honest and frank about their experiences and to share these with the conference. In return they are provided with space to reflect and contemplate how to lead and follow in organisations and their wider life.

2018 marks the 72nd Leicester Conference event and this year Ibrahim Murad, Leicester MBA alumnus, was fortunate enough to attend on behalf of the School. Ibrahim agreed to share his reflections on the experience whilst respecting the Chatham House protocols which surround the conference. Ibrahim has over 30 years of managerial experience in sales, marketing, business development and procurement across multiple industries, experience includes general and project management, quality management systems (ISO and OHSAS), contracts and contract management, joint ventures, strategic alliances, commercial risk management. Ibrahim is also the co-founder and President of the University of Leicester Levant and GCC Alumni Community.

Ibrahim admits that he found the Leicester conference challenging, describing it as “a journey of learning, reflection and clarity”. For Ibrahim it provided “a great chance to reflect on understanding relationships and relatedness, how to develop them, opening up to learning by experience, looking what is behind the obvious in developing relations and relatedness”. The intensity and immersive nature of the conference is well documented and for Ibrahim, along with many other participants it was a shock to be taken out of their daily routine in such an abrupt way, for Ibrahim it was like ‘putting our lives on pause’.

Ibrahim employs the phrase “re-entry process to the real world” to refer to his acclimatisation to work and life after the conference. What Ibrahim has found particularly useful is the co-operative learning experience, this has continued after the conference formally finished. During the conference an online telegram group had been created to facilitate some of our informal social interactions. This virtual connection between participants was maintained after the conference and 38 of the original 42 members are still active in this community. He notes how “the virtual is providing many of us a powerful mechanism for to share our thoughts and feelings after we left Leicester, and numerous themes are emerging which continue the Leicester conversation. We now have a virtual Leicester 2018 community which has the potential to build on ‘the pause’ and the relationships which developed face to face. Whilst people create online communities all the time very rarely do they evolve as ours has with the combination of the Tavistock experience, Group Relations tools and supporting digital interaction technologies”.

Professor Mark Stein, Chair in Leadership and Management at ULSB, has a long-standing connection with Tavistock, having studied at the Tavistock Clinic and held a post at the Tavistock Institute. He explains the importance of developing a relationship between our organisations: “Having attended the Tavistock Institute’s Leicester Conference no less than three times, I can honestly say that it has influenced my thinking and view of the world in a deep and enduring way. It helped me to learn about the mysteries, difficulties and opportunities of teamwork - as well as the challenges of leadership - in an immediate and experiential way.

“Following the Leicester Conference, I went on to be on the staff of group relations training conferences elsewhere, was employed by the Tavistock Institute for two years, and also had my doctorate co-supervised from the Tavistock. For me the Leicester Conference was undoubtedly the most profound learning experience about leadership, groups and teams I have ever had. While there are countless group relations training conferences around the world, the original, 'classic' model is the Leicester Conference, and all other similar such conferences owe a debt to it. Over a six decade period, it has helped to train a vast number of highly influential leaders all over the world, and it remains a unique and powerful tool for learning.”


  • Information on the Leicester Conference 2019 is available online
  • Scholarships to support faculty who hold leadership positions will be advertised shortly

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