The ISL Story

Providers of Executive Development and Organisational Transformation since 2001

In 2001, Geoff Lorigan, then Associate Dean of the Auckland Business School and head of the MBA Programme, 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.  He considered that leadership has the most profound influence on organisational success.

The first Strategic Leadership Programme (SLP) was run in October 2001. Since 2001, the Institute for Strategic Leadership has organised over 150 Strategic Leadership Programmes and Leadership Step-Up Programmes in Australasia. ISL currently has over 2800 alumni and growing. ​

There is no other executive development programme in Australasia that can count a Governor-General, Prime Minister, 2 Mayors, 5 Chiefs of Defence, 2 Commissioners of Police, 3 Vice Chancellors and several leading CEOs of Australian & New Zealand enterprises taking on the world. The programmes are without peers in Australasia and have been compared to those delivered by Harvard, Stanford and INSEAD. ​

The Strategic Leadership Programme has become truly international in its impact, with alumni including 3 Australian Vice-Chancellors, the CEOs of UNICEF Australia and Red Cross Australia, and CEOs of large organisations in UK, Singapore, Canada, Australia and the Pacific.​

In 2010, Geoff introduced the Four Character personality profilers. The tools that ISL and other organisations used at that time didn’t tell the full story, were not integrated, were unnecessarily complex and were not user-friendly or intuitive for time-poor executives. SmartLeader Diagnostics was born. Originally focussed on meeting the needs of the Programmes, SmartLeader Diagnostics has developed to be a comprehensive, integrated and insightful set of diagnostic tools at a leader, team and organisational level.  They are used by ISL for Programmes, Workshops, Team and Organisational-level diagnostics with a growing number of practitioners being accredited to use the tools within their own organisations and clients.

Besides the business and public sector, numerous Australasian not-for-profit organisations have benefited by participating in the programs and from the live cases at Strategic Leadership Programmes. On each Programme, ISL writes a case on a not-for-profit organisation. This, the ‘live’ Strategic Case Study, is a hallmark of the Strategic Leadership Programme. This is done at no cost to the not-for-profit organisation. The case is distributed to the participants during the programme and they have 48 hours to produce a strategy to the Board and CEO of the not-for-profit based on the case materials. This can have a profound impact on the chosen not-for-profit organisation, which have benefitted from a conservatively estimated $11 million worth of free consulting time from some of Australasia’s most talented public, private and not-for-profit leaders. ​

Over the last 22 years, there have been a range of not-for-profit organisations that have benefited from this process. 

ISL is also a strong believer in unleashing the potential of young people; a belief Geoff has held since his time at Otago and Auckland Universities and continued to role model at ISL.  ISL has, over the years, provided over 40 graduates with their first job or an internship experience that has been pivotal in their careers. Geoff’s belief in the value of diversity has seen team members from New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom, France, Pakistan, Germany, Turkey, Russia, India, Sri Lanka, China and USA. ISL has provided a young, diverse team opportunity of a lifetime that have led to extraordinary careers.