2016 Conference


Depth Leadership Conference 2016 outline


The Depth Leadership Trust (established 2013) is running its second Depth Leadership conference in South Africa to be hosted in Prince Albert in the Karoo. We coined the term “depth leadership” to refer to a leadership approach that uses the theories and practices that come from “depth” psychology. This refers to the branch of clinical psychology theories that embrace the notion of the unconscious mind. These theories argue that human behaviour is not only driven by conscious intention, but also by a complex set of unconscious processes.

The 2016 Conference Theme – “Depth Integrity”

The conference will feature talks, workshops and social events, with plenty of opportunity for group discussion.

Topics to be Explored

Why is depth psychology significant to leadership development and leadership practice?

  • What does leadership integrity mean?
  • How is “depth integrity” different?
  • How do we develop “deep integrity” in leaders?
  • How do we persuade leaders to pursue a path of “deep integrity”
  • What methodologies exist for developing “deep integrity”?

If you are interested in providing some theoretical or practical input on any of the above or related topics, please contact us.

More about Depth psychology

Depth psychology has been a formal sub-discipline within clinical psychology for more than 150 years and the original theories were developed by people such as Pierre Janet, William James, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, Otto Rank, Melanie Klein and others. The term “depth psychology” (from the original German “Tiefenpsychologie”) was coined by Eugen Bleuler in 1910. The original theorists used different names to describe their particular theory: Freud’s work is known as psychoanalysis; Jung’s work is known as analytical psychology (or  psychodynamic theory); and Melanie Klein’s work is known as object relations theory.  These theories have come a long since the original theorists, and in this conference, we are interested in how all the ideas from this branch of psychology could be helpful to leaders and organisations, without favouring one theory over another.

Target audience

The purpose of the conference is to offer an integration of theoretical ideas, practical experiences and open group conversations that apply depth psychology principles and processes to leadership and organisational work. We are inviting participants who lead or co-ordinate groups (whether formal or informal) in the achievement of collective goals. Participants do not need to be familiar with the core theories that constitute depth psychology.

Why a conference on “depth leadership”?

The world in general still seems to have many leadership problems, particularly in the area of leadership integrity and people management. We believe that, in the 21st century, one of the opportunities for better leadership is to include the idea of an unconscious mind in our thinking. Our unconscious motivations can override our best conscious intentions, which can reduce our effectiveness. Incorporating depth psychology ideas into a way of thinking, or in this instance a way of leading, has a profound effect, as indicated by Guy Claxton, author of ‘The Wayward Mind – An intimate history of the unconscious’.

“Whether a culture’s ‘folk psychology’, as it is called, incorporates an image of the unconscious, and what kind of image it is, makes a real difference to how life is lived” (Claxton, 2005, p.5).

There are conferences and workshops that address this area directly (such as the Tavistock Group Relations conferences), but these tend to select one area of application, and are often not accessible to mainstream thinking. Therefore, it seems to make sense to spend a few days actively focusing on the integration between “depth”, leadership and organisations as a whole way of thinking, without becoming too technical about specific areas of application. The aim is to develop awareness and share knowledge that spreads into the mainstream, and allows for the development of a greater community of leaders who work with removing the obstacles and unleashing the potential creativity of the unconscious mind, both individually and collectively.