Leicester Conference 2019
2008 saw the Global financial crisis, followed by scandal after scandal of corporate greed and corruption. Two years earlier, Industrial Psychologist, Paul Babiak and his Criminal Psychologist colleague Robert D Hare wrote “Snakes in Suits: When psychopaths go to Work” too little attention, perhaps the idea of snakes in suits was too frightening.
The authors outlined a 5 phase model used by most skilled corporate psychopaths to enter, climb and then secure their position of power and authority. The 5 phases were: entry, assessment, manipulation, confrontation, and ascension. However, what the early Tavistock Institute Group Relations pioneers seemed to understand was that this 5 phase model could be overthrown, if workers had access to skills and the ability to think about their role and how they exercise their authority to choose carefully to who and what they say “Yes” (saying yes – or not saying no, authorises the snakes to act).
Arguably, complicit followership is the biggest challenge we face in our institutions and citizenship today. Our leaders are now so well skilled in the tools of manipulation and covert assassinations that now, more than ever, we need to be able to study and develop the ART of ROLE to be able to take up Enlightened Followership. In what way does the ART of ROLE relate to the learning at the Leicester Conference – it is directly linked to the art of Loving. Erich Fromm, the psychoanalyst, and social psychologist wrote in his 1956 treatise The Art of Loving:
“The first step to take is to become aware that love is an art, just as living is an art; if we want to learn how to love we must proceed in the same way we have to proceed if we want to learn any other art, say music, painting, carpentry, or the art of medicine or engineering. What are the necessary steps in learning any art? The process of learning an art can be divided conveniently into two parts: one, the mastery of the theory; the other, the mastery of the practice.”
This year, the Leicester Conference takes a bold move to explore Task Authority and Organisation through the lens of LOVE@Work. What do we mean by Love in the context of work? Love as an output-activity or Love as a network of relationships in which an output-activity is executed? The creation of the temporary organisation in which we seek the mastery of practice is also the vehicle through which we can study our behaviour as it happens, to shed light on the role of love in our contemporary systems.
Love and its place in our contemporary world is not an easy question to answer.
For 67 years we, the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations in general, and the Leicester Conference, in particular, have been interrogating the nature of the human condition in complex systems. I believe that this interrogation represents a profound commitment to love. We are facing increasing toxicity in our systems, and so you are invited to come and study together how these collective issues manifest in our systems and how each of us can face up to and own our part in success or decline of the Snakes in Suits.
The 2019 Leicester Conference explicitly seeks to study what love@work means for us collectively through the working conference as a fractal of our broader social system.
Erich Fromm’s response as to why these questions of love seem to elude us as a species:
“And, maybe, here lies the answer to the question of why people in our culture try so rarely to learn this art, in spite of their obvious failures: in spite of the deep-seated craving for love, almost everything else is considered to be more important than love: success, prestige, money, power — almost all our energy is used for the learning of how to achieve these aims, and almost none to learn the art of loving.”
For further details, to apply, or if you have any questions, please contact
Anabel Navarro, Pre-Conference Administrator.