Michael Henderson

New Zealand

Specialty Areas

Michael is a Corporate Anthropologist, meaning he has a degree in anthropology (the study of human beings, as curators of culture) and 40 years of experience, with over 300 hundred business culture transformation projects. He uses his vast experience and knowledge to support clients to align their company culture as a strategic asset. Whether as a keynote speaker, inspiring leaders to create and lead a high performance culture, or as a gifted facilitator of his world-class company culture development programs, Michael brings deep insights to unlock cultures' full potential by revealing what culture is, how it forms and functions, and how you can use this knowledge to optimise your culture. His work has been hailed by the world's leading expert in organisational culture, the late Professor Edgar Schein, of M.I.T Sloan School of Management, as providing the "The missing link" that organisations have been missing to truly understand what culture is and how to align culture as a strategic asset.

Speaking topics

Keynote: Aligning your culture as a strategic asset

92% of organisations fail to align their culture as a strategic asset. The impact of this oversight on business performance is both costly and high risk. Learn why so many organisations fail to align their culture and how they can rectify this to; Increase performance, enhance productivity, retain staff, attract talent and reinforce their brands and reduce running costs.

Keynote: Chiefing your tribe

How to lead a high-performance business culture

Many business leaders suggest that culture is led from the top. In reality, this is only true if the leaders have a comprehensive knowledge of culture and how to lead it. Most do not. In this powerful and thought-provoking keynote, you will discover just what it takes to truly lead a culture and inspire it to deliver higher levels of performance. Packed with anthropological insights, that leaders can apply immediately, Michael will show you how to understand, the performance dynamic of all cultures and how as a leader you can engage with them to drive people's engagement, by increasing your leadership presence and always balancing the two aspects of culture leadership, that are proven to optimise cultures performance.

Keynote: Above the Line

How to build your perfect culture. It's easier than you think

Imagine your perfect company culture. What would it look like? How would it feel to be a member of that culture? How would people treat one another? What would the levels of trust, collaboration, respect and contribution be like? In this inspiring keynote, you will learn how, as employees, you can curate and contribute to your team or company culture to achieve deep levels of belonging and high levels of performance. Learn how, with increased awareness of culture and a commitment to accountability and aligned action, every employee, has the power to contribute and curate the company culture they long for, and that meets the business needs.

Workshop: Aligning your culture as a strategic asset

92% of organisations fail to align their culture as a strategic asset! This is not due to a lack of a lack intent, action or investment, but is nearly always the result of a lack of culture knowledge and culturing capability. In this deeply, insightful well well-researched and critically acclaimed, workshop, Michael will share just what it takes to align culture as a strategic asset that; reduces business risk, cust coasts, boosts people's performance, lifts productivity, reinforces your brand and attracts and retains talent. If all this sounds too good to be true, it is likely that your current culture isn't aligned as a strategic asset.

Workshop: Culture fundamentals

Using insights from anthropology, Michael will share with you, why so many organisations inadvertently restrict the performance capabilities of their company culture and how to rectify this. In understanding and evaluating the most common mistakes and misconceptions organisations make and hold with culture, you can learn how to avoid them and unleash the full creative and performance power, your culture has to offer. Learn;

  • Why culture doesn't 'eat strategy for breakfast' and why you need to understand what it does eat.
  • Why culture is not 'the way we do things around here' and what it actually is.
  • Why culture isn't led from the top and, if it, is you may be in a cult, not a culture.
  • How to curate the culture your people deserve, your business needs and your customers long to connect with.


Congratulations Michael. I've been with Kennards for over a decade, and I can tell you, our 200 managers have never given any speaker a standing ovation before. So when you get standing ovations, you really need to know you've made an impact.
Penny Burke, Kennards Hire Board Member

Michael’s insights into human behaviours, leadership and high-performance culture are a thought-provoking balance for business leaders wanting the best for their people driving for results. Michael is an extremely engaging speaker, who literally made the hairs on my neck rise with powerful simple, memorable messages that are applicable to any business environment.
Tony Brennan, Director of Operations, Australia | Lend Lease

As an organiser of conferences designed for senior business executives, it’s my job to recruit keynote speakers who have both exceptional content and delivery. Over the last 8 years, I’ve had the pleasure of booking Michael Henderson to speak on numerous times. Without exception, Michael always rates as one of the top speakers whenever he joins us. His subject matter expertise on business culture is world class and he delivers it with a level of passion that never fails to impress and almost astounds. In my opinion, Michael is one of the best keynote speakers I’ve seen (and I’ve seen a lot) and I would recommend him to anyone.
Mark Abay, Head of Content Ashton Media Pty Ltd

Michael Henderson speaker

Speaker Video

Speaker Showreel | Michael Henderson

Speaker Showreel | Michael Henderson

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