Michelle is an author, speaker and consultant, and one of Australia’s most engaging and thought provoking experts on culture and leadership. She helps thousands of people through talks, training and coaching to create a life and business they love.

Meet Me…

Michelle is an author, speaker, entrepreneur, coach and business consultant. Leveraging her interest in people and business development, she traded in her accounting career to pursue her undergraduate and graduate degrees in human behaviour, organisational development and ethics.

In 2013, Michelle founded Synergy IQ a business consultancy, which she now runs with her business partners. Michelle and the SynergyIQ team of consulting professionals specialise in leadership development, business strategy, change management, and culture transformation. In 2016, along with her partner, she launched an online platform that is revolutionizing the music education sector (samii.com.au).

As a keynote and professional speaker, she has spoken at conferences and live events across Australia. Her speaking topics include leadership, business culture, courage and resilience, and leading change. An accredited leadership coach and culture profiler through Human Synergistics, and a WholeBrain thinking practitioner for Herrmann Asia International, and a Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator, Michelle’s professional associations include the Australian Human Resource Institute, the South Australia Writers Centre, and the Leaders Institute of South Australia.

Michelle also volunteers as a mentor for young entrepreneurs and young business professionals. She has travelled and worked throughout Australia, Canada, the United States, England, Scotland, France, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, Malaysia, Thailand, Borneo, Singapore, Bali, Fiji, and New Caledonia.

Michelle T Holland is the author of ‘Energy Vampires Suck’, ‘Unearthing Vampires’, and the international bestseller ‘Culture Inc‘, and lives in South Australia with her two children, her partner, two adorable dogs…and a cheeky rabbit.

Michelle is a member of the new generation of speakers and authors who give generously to their audience and maintain relevance through continual research and development. Each presentation is a bit different, because as Michelle learns and grows, so does her ability to provide a unique look at the world through the creative and curious eyes of a corporate anthropologist.

Book Michelle – info@synergyiq.com.au

My Topics…

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Culture Evolution - Change the Conversation and Create Cultures that Work

Gallup tells us that 85% of the world’s workforce is disengaged at work!

What if you and your employees could be 35% more satisfied and engaged at work? AND what if these engaged people actually deliver 30-40% more profit and productivity to your business? Would you be curious to find out how?

Current research shows that having the right kind of culture in your business delivers these kinds of results and more. It also shows that the culture you have, is because of the results that you accept. So if you want better results, you need the right kind of culture.

So what is the right kind of culture…

Through years of research, trial and error, and experience working with business leaders across Australia, Michelle has discovered the three essential elements to creating cultures where success, satisfaction and sustainability happens.

Key takeaways:

  • the one conversation every leader must STOP having
  • the two key mistakes business leaders make that kill their success
  • the three key elements of a culture that creates success
  • the four key actions business leaders who lead successful change do every-time

Michelle takes the audience on a journey from the bad to good to great in culture transformation. Sharing current research, case studies, and evidence she demonstrates the fundamental links between culture, success, results and leadership.

Based on Michelle’s new book “Culture Inc: Create a business that gets results and people love” OUT NOW.


Culture Impact on Change - What kind of impact depends on you

Think about any change that you’ve tried to achieve or were a part of.

Now tell me what impact did your culture have on the success of that change?

More often than not my clients tell me that their “culture” is holding them back from the changes they want to make in business. The people aren’t engaged and are rejecting the new way of working. Have you thought about how much of that is to do with the individual and how much is systemic?

This talk explores the business culture as a living ecosystem and the impact that this system has on the individuals ability to make change in business. Through case studies we explore why change fails and how understanding the ecosystem creates better outcomes.

Key Takeways:

  • understand why culture can be your greatest… friend or foe in change
  • discover the culture ecosystem and how knowing this can support your next change program
  • the key secrets of every great change manager and change leader

Based on Michelle’s new book “Culture Inc: Create a business that gets results and people love” OUT NOW.



Imperfect Leadership – How to let go of perfection and lead with courage

“You will always fail when you are trying to be a perfect leader, you are a human after all.” Said my mentor. After a particularly challenging week trying to be everything to everyone I was ready to give up. This was the beginning of my journey to embrace imperfect leadership.”

Imagine a world where people are able to give their best every day and reach their full potential. A world where we leverage strengths so that our leaders can be inspiring, caring and successful; and workplaces that support our wellbeing and our emotional lives…

Contrary to this utopia, we have created a world where our good leaders feel they are failing because they are not great. They look at the textbook leader with shame and longing, and work themselves to exhaustion trying to meet this perfect yet unrealistic view of leadership. This talk explores the phenomenon of working extremely hard, compromising our wellbeing, and trying to be the perfect leader. It’s time for a revolution in leadership that appreciates us for our fallible humanness.

Key takeaways:

  • where the pressure for perfect leadership comes from and why its harmful to business success
  • what is an “imperfect leader” and why its the only kind of leader for the future
  • how embracing your own imperfection will create a strength and courage you never knew possible
  • four (4) pillars of an imperfect leadership mindset and skill set so you can be a successful (and healthy) leader now and into the future

This talk is based on my personal leadership journey, my work with Dr Brené Brown, and research for my new book due for release mid 2022 called “Imperfect Leadership”.


Physics of Innovation - Fail Fast and Rise Strong

Innovation starts with a spark of an idea.  Anyone can have this spark. But only the truly brave take that spark, create something new, build the fire underneath, engage others, and turn it into a reality.

Research conducted by University of Virginia’s innovation team tells us that the only certainty in innovation is uncertainty. Brené Brown PhD defines vulnerability as being in uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.

Michelle, after studying directly with Dr Brown in San Antonio Texas, discovered a gem that changed the way she viewed leadership and innovation forever. Michelle shares this gem of discovery, and the research and the skills that are the keys to courage and therefore the gateway to innovation.


  • what goes up must fall down… the physics of innovation
  • the intersection between vulnerability and innovation
  • the proven skills of brave and innovative leaders

This talk is based on my personal innovation journey (including co-founding an IT startup company), my work with Dr Brené Brown, and research for my new book due for release mid 2022 called “Imperfect Leadership”

*Dr Brené Brown, is a researcher, storyteller, Professor at Houston University, and Author of five #1 New York Times best sellers. Her TED talk “The Power of Vulnerability” has been watched over 40 million times. Dr Brown has recently made a discovery that she calls the greatest of her career. That is, courage is the number one skill set required for the future of leadership AND it’s teachable, observable and measurable.



Other talks

Michelle has a suite of talks (keynotes, masterclasses, and workshops) that help leaders to create change, improve their business results and become transformational leaders. Learn more by contacting Michelle and her team at https://synergyiq.com.au/contact/


Read My Blog…

What happens when a type-A personality goes on holiday?

Share with your networks Work hard, play harder is generally my motto. But last week was quite a different experience. With minimal access to internet and nothing to do other than chill out on the deck of a cruise ship, I reluctantly learnt how to relax. I reluctantly...
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Are you flexible enough to withstand the change?

Share with your networks The recent storms and floods in Adelaide dramatically changed the environment near my home. The river has widened, the man made bridges have been destroyed and the trees blown over. On my walk this morning looking at the mess I was reminded of...
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Why waste time and money on culture?

Share with your networks Are you wasting time and money on culture and leadership programs?   According to a 2013 culture and change management survey by Booz & co, 96% of businesses believe that culture change is needed. According to McKinsey and co, 70% of...
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Let’s kill SMART goals and leadership training… for good!

Share with your networksThere are many great ideas, there are many great thought leaders, and there are many many many great blogs you can read on the future of business, life, education, leadership and work. So what can I add that hasn’t already been said?...
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How to get organised…when you are not!

Share with your networksAre you an organised person? Not me. I’m just not wired for organisation. My brain doesn’t work that way. I’m wired for creative thinking. That’s cool with me because I accept my weakness and play to my strengths. The...
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Upcoming Talks:

Here are some places where you may have seen me speak:

  • LAST Conference – Torrens University June 2019 – Culture’s Impact on Change
  • BNI Business Network – Adelaide March 2019 – Changing the Conversation about Culture
  • Women in Leadership – Stamford Plaza October 2018 – A New Conversation of Culture for a New Generation of Leader
  • AHRI Networks – Adelaide June 2018 – Change the Conversation about Culture
  • Sass Summit – Adelaide Convention Centre January 2017 – Creating a Performance Culture
  • MTA SA Expo – Adelaide SA September 2106 – Learning Styles for Teaching
  • Exploring Great Music Education Conference 2016 – Adelaide, SA – Reading Minds to Improve Engagement
  • EAPA Summit 2015 – Double Bay, Sydney Australia – Topsy Turvy Leadership – Unleash the SLAYER Within
  • Rotary Club Young Professionals Group 2015 – Salisbury SA – Creating a Personal Leadership Brand for Success
  • LG Professionals Group 2015 – Holdfast Bay SA – Is Your Online Presence Killing Your Chances of Success?
  • AHRI Young Professionals Network 2015 – Adelaide SA – Colour By Numbers….Networking Made Easy and FUN!
  • Lions Club International Convention 2014 – Adelaide Hilton Australia – Put the PR in PRoductive – Spreading the Word
  • LGMA Women’s Conference 2013 – Adelaide Festival Centre Australia – Maintaining Resilience Through Change
  • LGMA Women’s Networking Forums 2013 – Adelaide and Rural – Examining Change and its Impact on You and Your Organisation
  • Akolade Conference – 2nd Annual HR Measurements and Analytics 2013, Adelaide Stamford – Evolution of Organisational Excellence
  • Workforce Planning in Government 2012 – Canberra Australia – Wellbeing @ Work – Keynote
  • Workforce Planning in Government 2012 – Canberra Australia – Planning for Success – Workforce Planning Masterclass
  • Australian Human Resources Institute 2012 & 2013 – Demystifying Workforce Planning & The Leading Edge – Leadership Branding
  • College of Organisational Psychologist 2012 – Adelaide Australia – The Leading Edge – Leadership Branding
  • Workforce Planning in Government 2011 – Sydney Australia – Leadership Branding Keynote
  • University of SA – Leadership Programs, Women in Business, HR Forums
  • Local Government (2010-2013) – Leadership, and Culture Forums.

Thanks and Praise…

“I work with entrepreneurs and female change makers what are working hard to create businesses that deliver results and that their customers and employee love. One thing I know for sure is that business culture and leadership ability is critical to their success. Michelle shared her expertise in these areas with participants at our SASS Summit. Our participants valued her presentation and I’m thrilled that she is sharing this expertise more broadly through her books.”

Carly Thompson-Barry

Founder and Director, SASS Collective and She Nurtures

Watch Me…