About Us

Providers of Executive Development and Organisational Transformation since 2001

The Institute Story

In 2001, Dr Geoff Lorigan, then Deputy Dean of the Auckland Business School and head of the MBA Programme after a successful career as a CEO, founded The Institute for Strategic Leadership (ISL). The inspiration for the Institute came from an observation that MBA’s produced outstanding managers but did not focus on producing exceptional leaders. It is leadership, not management, that has the most profound influence on organisational success.


The first programme, run in October of that year, was the Strategic Leadership Programme. Aimed at CEO’s and their direct reports, the first Strategic Leadership Programmes attracted many who have become some of New Zealand’s most celebrated leaders – Sir Bill English (former Prime Minister), Sir Jerry Mateparae (NZ High Commissioner to London, former Governor General and Chief of the New Zealand Defence Force) and Craig Norgate (founding CEO of Fonterra). Since that time, the SLP has become truly international, with alumni also including Vice Chancellors of several Australian Universities, CEO’s of several large Australian companies and Government Agencies, former Vice President of ESSO/Mobil Oil in Japan, The Director of World Vision in West Africa, the Managing Director of BUPA UK and the Director of the MBA at the prestigious Ashridge College in the UK.


After four Strategic Leadership Programmes, alumni observed that it would have ‘been great to know some of this 20 years ago, could you develop a programme we could send our senior leaders on’. Hence, the Leadership Step-Up Programme (formerly known as the Leadership Programme) was developed and first run in 2003.

In 2015, having experienced being part of a high performing team on the Programmes, alumni expressed an interest in High Performing Leadership Team Workshops being run within their organisations. Since that time, ISL has developed a number of workshops that apply processes and diagnostics developed on the programmes to in-house leader and team development.


Diagnostics have always been used as an evidence base for the Programmes. In 2010, Dr Lorigan lamented the personality profilers, working style profilers and 360-degree feedback tools used didn’t tell the full story, were not integrated, were unnecessarily complex and were not user friendly or intuitive for time poor executive. SmartLeader Apps was born. Originally focussed on meeting the needs of the Programmes, SmartLeader Apps is a comprehensive, integrated and insightful set of diagnostic tools at a leader, team and multi-team/organisational level. They are used by ISL for Programmes, Workshops and Organisational-level diagnostics.



Since 2001, 57 Strategic Leadership Programmes, 58 Leadership Step-Up Programmes and over 100 days of in-house workshops have been run in some of New Zealand and Australia’s largest companies and public sector organisations. ISL Programmes have over 2500 alumni from New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, UK, Hong Kong, Canada, USA, Nepal, Bosnia and Herzegovina and West Africa. 


SmartLeader Apps diagnostics tools have now had over 7000 users and are being used in New Zealand, Australia, and the United States.


Contributing to the communities we serve is a deeply held value for the Institute. Since its establishment in 2001, participants on the Strategic Leadership Programme have prepared strategic assessments and recommendations for many not-for-profits (small and large) , including: World Vision, Outward Bound, Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind, Cancer Foundation, Neurological Foundation, Heart Foundation, Olympic Games Committee, Guides New Zealand, Plunket Society,Westpac Rescue Helicopter and Air Ambulance, Vision Australia and The PACE Centre (UK).


ISL’s commitment to delivering a consistently high-quality experience is reflected in our client feedback mechanisms and being ISO9001 Accredited.

Our Clients