Michelle Holland’s message is simple but powerful: if we want our organisations to be better, we have to start by making our ‘experience of work’ better.

About Michelle…


Michelle Holland’s message is simple but powerful: if we want our organisations to be better, we have to start by making our ‘experience of work’ better.

Best known for her pioneering work and ideas in the field of business culture, Michelle believes that our experience of work has a profound impact on innovation, leadership and the future—and she should know. As an organisational culture, change and leadership expert with over two decades of experience, Michelle has helped some of Australia’s and the world’s largest companies transform their cultures and business performance by improving their experience of work.

This is a key focus of her work at her company SynergyIQ, where she is the Executive Director and Founder. At SynergyIQ, Michelle and the team are working at the forefront of strategic and organisational change, helping organisations face and navigate complex challenges.

The author of three books, including her international bestseller ‘Culture Inc, Michelle is one of the most influential voices in Australia on the experience of work, the business of change and the future of culture and leadership. She is a popular choice for conferences wanting to inspire their audiences with a fresh, original and thought-provoking take on work, culture, leadership and the future and challenges thinking at the highest levels.

Due in late 2022, her latest book, Imperfect Leadership, explores authenticity, embracing imperfection and how comparison in leadership is the fast-track to burnout.

She’s also a certified Dare to Lead™ facilitator (yes, she’s met Dr Brené Brown), an accredited Culture Profiler, and is currently undertaking her doctorate in the field of business leadership.

Michelle works Online, Live, Nationally and Internationally. Some her clients include BHP (mining), BAE (defence), KBR (engineering), SA Water (utilities), University of Adelaide, the Australian Federal Government and a variety of other private and government organisations.

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.

She lives in South Australia with her two children, partner and two adorable dogs.

Michelle is available for speaking engagements, workshops and consultancy and would love to hear from you!


BHP, BAE, Anglicare, University of Adelaide, KBR, SA Water, City of Burnside, City of Charles Sturt, Elders, Royal Society of the Blind (RSB), Dan Murphy’s, RenewalSA, and Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.


Book Michelle – admin@synergyiq.com.au

Signature Keynotes…

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Imperfect Leadership – How to let go of perfection and lead with authenticity
“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 takes the audience on a journey to introduce them to the beauty and freedom of embracing imperfection. Based on Michelle’s personal leadership journey, her work with Dr Brené Brown, personal research, and her new book due for release mid 2022 called “Imperfect Leadership“.


Leading Strong - How to build resilience and inner strength to lead authentically
Across Australia and the world, leaders are striving to be perfect. They have a picture of “perfect leader” they believe that they are being judged against… unfortunately, they are right. You are faced with judgement when you become a leader.

There seems to be an expectation that we have to … know all the answers and coach our people, be compassionate and be tough, be strategic and answer all our emails, manage staff wellbeing while delivering every project outcomes, collaborate with our peers and fix problems immediately, be innovative while following the rules, don’t challenge too much while creating change, implement new ways of working but don’t upset anyone doing it… all while looking like none of it is hard and we have it all together. Is it any wonder our good leaders are burning out?

People are fallible, and leaders are people. Leaders need to fill their own cup first to ensure that they are prepared to serve and support. We need to stop the world-wide trend of leaders dropping out of leadership and people saying that they don’t want to be promoted because leadership looks like a terrible career choice if you want to stay well and healthy.

Key take aways:

  1. The 3 key reasons that people are quitting leadership
  2. The 7 elements we need for a healthy leadership mind
  3. Setting and maintaining boundaries for self care
  4. Embedding a practice of reflection and self-compassion

This keynote is focused on giving leaders the skills, and most importantly, the permission to take care of themselves and become strong enough to lead effectively. During this keynote Michelle shares her personal journey of ‘burnout and bounce’ to reconnect with her passion for leadership.

Culture Evolution - Create a Better Experience at 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 experience of work that you are accepting. So if you want a better experience, 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:

  • understand how you can create an experience of work that benefits you and your customers
  • the three key elements of culture that creates success
  • learn from the culture stories from eight different types of business
  • the key actions you can do to create the experience of work that you want

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.


Resistance to Change - Why People Resist and What You Can Do About It

Maybe people aren’t actually resisting change, perhaps they are just reacting to it?

Change takes many forms, but one thing remains consistent… the people. Whether you are making a personal change, a process or procedure change, an organisational wide change, or a change in technology you need the people who are affected by the change to adopt new ways of working if the changes you are making will be successful.

One of the perceived greatest challenges for leading change is when the group of people you are leading through change… refuse to budge. They are ‘resisting’ the change. Resistance to change appears to be a go to reason why changes fail. But there is something you can do about this so called ‘resistance’.

  • Explore the Top 10 Reasons why people appear to resist change
  • Learn what you can do to manage change consistently
  • Discover the top secrets of an experience corporate change specialist

Michelle has worked with business leaders to guide them through change and transformation for over 20 years. Based on Michelle’s eBook “Change Resistance – 10 top reasons people resist change and what you can do about it“. This eBook is provided free for participants.

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.



Physics of Meaningful Conversations & Creating Change

Change 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. Only through courage and meaningful conversations does true change happen. But there’s a downside to courage and conversations… sometimes you fail at them. 

Research conducted by University of Virginia’s innovation team tells us that the only certainty in life is uncertainty. Dr Brené Brown* defines vulnerability as the feeling of uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. Tell me any time you’ve done something worthwhile and meaningful and haven’t felt vulnerable…

Michelle shares  the research and the skills that are the keys to courage and therefore the gateway to meaningful conversations and change.


  • what goes up must fall down… the physics of courage
  • the intersection between courage, vulnerability, change and meaningful conversations
  • the proven skills of brave, authentic and innovative leaders

This talk is based on Michelle’s leadership and innovation journey (including co-founding an IT startup company), her work with Dr Brené Brown, and professional experience in leadership for over 20 years.

*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/

  1. Dare to Lead™ training
  2. Courageous and Meaningful Conversations
  3. Leading Change
  4. Authentic Leadership
  5. Executives Leading Leaders
  6. Culture of Belonging


Follow us…


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


  • BAE, UK focus (live online Keynote)
  • People2People (Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane)
  • NAWIC, Adelaide Chapter
  • SA Public Sector, Manager Essentials Launch (live online keynote)


  • EOS, Germany/US focus (live online Keynote)
  • People2People (live online Keynote)
  • MSD – Leaders Forum (Sydney)
  • AACQA – Leaders Forum (Sydney)
  • The Hatchery (live online) – Dare to Lead
  • BAE – Change Community of Practice
  • SA Police – Culture and Values
  • Made for More (Podcast) 
  • Creating Synergy (Podcast) –
  • Get Invested (Podcast) 


  • PMI SA Chapter Aug 2019 
  • LAST Conference  June 2019 
  • BNI Business Network – Adelaide March 2019 – Changing the Conversation about Culture
  • Women in Leadership – Stamford Plaza October 2018 – A New Culture Conversation New Gen Leaders
  • AHRI Networks – Adelaide June 2018 – Change the Conversation about Culture

prior to 2017:

  • Sass Summit – Adelaide Convention Centre – Creating a Performance Culture
  • EAPA Summit – Double Bay, Sydney Australia – Authentic Leadership
  • Rotary Club Young Professionals Group – 
  • Workforce Planning in Government – Canberra Australia 
  • Australian Human Resources Institute
  • College of Organisational Psychologist – Adelaide Australia 
  • Workforce Planning in Government – Sydney Australia – Leadership Branding Keynote
  • Lions Club International Convention – Adelaide Hilton Australia 
  • AHRI Young Professionals Network – Adelaide SA 
  • LGMA Women’s Conference 
  • LGMA Women’s Networking Forums 
  • Akolade Conference – 2nd Annual HR Measurements and Analytics, Adelaide Stamford 

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

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