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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

Leadership development

A human centered approach to create high value, high impact performance


Context for leadership

Business in 2021 is operating in a complex, uncertain and constantly changing context. From digital transformation, the impact of the global pandemic, to the pressure to preserve limited resources and protect nature and our environment, leaders bear the brunt of this accountability.

At the front of their mind is the constant need to deliver value to shareholders and an ever-increasing group of stakeholders. How can leaders embrace the magnitude of this responsibility, and produce returns required in the short term by delivering sustainable solutions for the long term?

 It’s a big question – and with it comes a big responsibility.


Our proposition

We recognise the magnitude of this challenge for leaders. We work with leaders to develop the personal and organisational resilience as well as the knowledge, skills and behaviours to innovate, thrive and lead the transformation required.

Leading and engaging high performance teams to create value through sustainable solutions and sustainable behaviour pathways will become the new norm for the future.  Leaders that learn to deliver value in this way, embracing the opportunity and mitigating the risks to our people, planet and the wider society, will achieve alignment of profit with purpose.  They will experience the benefit and outcomes of meaningful work and responsible impact. They will be confident in the knowledge that their leadership not only delivers value to shareholders but considers the quality of life for future generations.


Transformational Leadership for a sustainable future - what is it?

Our programmes develop leaders with the cognitive, behavioural and emotional capacity to engage and align people, profitability and sustainability. Designed to help leaders develop the capability to lead and influence change to deliver value for shareholders and stakeholders, whilst working towards decarbonising the economy, protecting and restoring nature and building inclusive and resilient societies.

We work with leaders to build their resilience in an uncertain and a complex world. We help them to deliver value through a deeply human, purpose led approach that enables them to lead effectively both virtually and face to face. We share the knowledge, tools and frameworks and develop the behaviours that will enable them to innovate and transform organisations with agility and courage and deliver value through sustainable purpose and solutions.


Our Approach

Our approach to leadership development has profitability and success through people and  sustainability at its heart. We work in partnership with our clients to develop and safeguard their businesses by developing their leaders mindsets, values and practice to contribute towards a sustainable future.

Our approach is rooted in a deep understanding of both leadership and the sustainability agenda, developed over thirty years.   Through this lense we bring together our research expertise and our business practice around mainstream leadership development. This fusion of knowledge, experience and practical application, brings to the market a distinctive approach to leadership development. Our offer invites organisations to invest in the leadership they need for their future success; enabling them to innovate to create value for shareholders and stakeholders in a sustainable way.

We co-create with our clients in a deeply integrated way using a blend of advisory and education to ensure that programme design, delivery and follow through meet the outcomes and impact required.

With a focus on practical leadership development we create interventions that work alongside the busy lives of senior leaders. Digital, virtual, face to face, experiential learning programmes are created to work with leaders in a way that is relevant, accessible, energising and engaging in their context.  Diagnostics, one to one coaching, emotional, practical and experiential learning and live project work are some of the experiences used to augment the programmatic work, be it in the classroom, on location, or virtually.

Expertise in design and creation of programmes means that we design the engagement and action in a way that meets the needs of the individuals and the organisation, curated to embed and apply the learning to maximize impact.


Leadership development, our underlying principles:

Business needs to deliver commercial results in order to succeed. The curriculum brings together the latest research and practice of how leaders can effectively lead their teams to deliver commercial success through sustainable solutions.  How can business leaders prepare themselves and their organisations to thrive in this new paradigm? How can they give clarity, authenticity and meaning as leaders using personal and organisational purpose, and embracing sustainable business models and practices? How can leaders enable business to research, innovate and market new opportunities, behaviour pathways and solutions that enable a sustainable future?

As a leader:

  • The responsibility of your organisation’s success can be a heavy weight to carry.  In an increasingly uncertain and volatile world, it takes resilience, fore-sight and courage to take the steps required for transformational change.  We aim to develop the role of a ‘trusted friend and advisor’ to leaders and organisations setting out on this path, bringing our experience and critical thinking to the development of your goals.

As an HR/LD director:

  • Do you want to nurture your leaders and future leaders to ensure the future security and success of your organisation?  Our programme is designed to speak to those currently leading as well as those with aspirations to step up to leadership roles.  We nurture and support future leaders as part of our collaborative approach with the businesses we work with
  • Get in touch to discuss your leadership development needs and how to support, prepare and coach your leaders


Gillian Secrett

Gillian Secrett, Director of Leadership Programmes

Experienced CEO and Board Director, Gillian is now focussed on researching and developing leadership capabilities in others, to drive value for shareholders,  stakeholders and ultimately long term wellbeing for people and planet, through strategic integration of sustainable solutions. Dedicated to helping leaders and aspiring leaders take a “deeply human” approach to leadership, to build and align personal purpose and goals with organisational purpose and strategy. To enable leaders to unlock energy and clarity of direction, build resilience and deliver results through high performance teams amidst a context of ambiguity and complexity.

Gillian believes that transformational leadership for a sustainable future requires leaders to pioneer and innovate around opportunities and manage risks for their business in the economy, for society and in the environment. It will require leaders to engage employees and accelerate performance by influencing culture and mindsets, providing a safe and productive space for innovation and development of new solutions. She works with leaders to help them envision a strategic and systemic view, and develop the capacity to engage with diverse perspectives, influencing people and systems within and beyond the organisation.

Gillian’s experience as a Chartered Director and Fellow of the Institute of Directors; the knowledge she aquired through the Masters in Sustainability leadership, (CAMBS) and as Fellow of Churchill College; and her engagement as a qualified business coach, having trained with Meyler Campbell and the Coaches Training Institute of California, all underpin her approach and commitment to developing leaders to deliver their best work; high value, high impact.

“Amidst the complex and uncertain world system in which we operate, leaders can no longer have all the answers. They can deliver results through collaborating and engaging with people, organisations and communities and embracing the advances of technology. Leaders who are anchored by their own personal purpose and guided by a strong set of principles that underpin their leadership will thrive. Enabling them to pioneer new pathways, provide vision, clarity and meaning and show compassion, in order to build resilient and adaptive organisations that create value for all stakeholders.

Gillian Secrett. Director Leadership Programmes, CISL 

Global Leadership in the Asian Century

In a fast-changing world that is increasingly influenced by Asia, this programme will provide senior leaders and decision makers with insight, understanding, capability and networks to the changing global context, in ways that will shape and enable a sustainable future.

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