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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

Transformational leadership

How can leaders develop a sustainable business in 2023?

How can leaders embrace the complexity and magnitude of this responsibility, by producing the returns required in the short term and delivering sustainable solutions for the long term?

Today’s approaches to leadership development are simply not delivering the leadership capabilities required for long-term business success. Our work shows that some leading organisations are successfully rethinking their leadership development strategy to meet the changing context, but many organisations are yet to recognise the scale of change required.

Organisations need a new form of leadership development which helps them to reframe their purpose, strategy, culture – even their fundamental approach to value creation.


CISL Insights for Leaders

Hear from global professionals tackling real-world sustainability challenges across business, policy and finance. CISL Conversations brings you thought leadership from across industries, sectors, and continents. We explore best practices, systemic risks, strategic insights, and the latest research.


Thought Leadership and Reports

Our practitioner-based sustainability reports and briefings highlight some of the best examples of sustainability leadership that have emerged over the past few years.

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Leadership case studies and impact stories

Our case studies highlight examples of sustainability leadership that have emerged over the past few years and explore new ideas and approaches that have the potential to deliver transformational change.

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CISL Conversations

Hear from global professionals tackling real-world sustainability challenges across business, policy and finance.

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Leadership Webinars 

The Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) hosted a series of ‘Advancing Leadership’ webinars between March and May 2020

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Alumni stories


"With the credentials of CISL, this could well be the most successfully designed programme in the world that delivers sustainability to business management in a nutshell."

Lu-Ann Ong, Singapore Co-founder and Managing Partner, Independent Consultants 1920 LLP

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"The course gave me a firm foundation on sustainability, equipped me with up-to-date trends on how it is practised across the globe, and gave me the chance to meet passionate practitioners of sustainability and be inspired by the work they do."

Harris Albert Guevarra, Philippines President and CEO, Drink

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Short online courses in leadership

Leading Sustainability: High Impact Leadership

For professionals seeking to build skills in values driven, high impact leadership.

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Communicating for Influence and Impact

For professionals seeking to build the communication skills to achieve meaningful change.

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Women Leading Change: Shaping
Our Future

For current and aspiring leaders who are ready to lead change in organisations and society through systemic transformation.

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Watch a recording of the Women Leading Change webinar


How we work with you

Developing the right leadership skills across an organisation is not easy, but a growing body of work indicates that organisations that cultivate learning and innovation to develop these capabilities are better able to anticipate and mitigate risk and enhance productivity. More importantly, they are better able to shape their own futures and seize the opportunities inherent in aligning their activities with society’s needs and priorities. 

 Find out more about how we support orgainsations.

Our leadership programmes work with organisations and individuals to allow them to thrive in the changing business context and to support them in becoming the leaders that we need to transform our economies and deliver benefits to people, and protect our nature and climate. You can find more about CISL's position on leadership here.


Leadership development

We build the leadership capacity of individuals across disciplines to catalyse and accelerate change to deliver value within and beyond their own context.

Executive education for leaders 

Online programmes

Master's-level graduate courses

Transforming organisations 

We challenge and support organisations to raise ambition and embed net zero across their organisations. 

Customised Leadership Development


Executive coaching

We coach leaders to understand and deliver sustainable impact
at an individual, team, organisational and systemic level.

Enquiries regarding our coaching offer
can be submitted here.

Leadership and Purpose

We help leaders to respond to the most material risks to 'business as usual', to identify new opportunities for sustainable value creation , and to align their fundamental purpose and strategy with the transition to a sustainable economy. 

Organisational purpose and strategy development

Report: Leading with a sustainable purpose

Report: Unleashing the sustainable


Transforming policy & markets

We help to enable leadership across broader economic and market transitions by influencing policy, regulation, standards and opinion through our Centres:

Centre for Sustainable Finance

Accelerating solutions

We foster new enterprises, business models, technologies, products and services that promote a sustainable future.

Accelerator programmes and events

Canopy Incubator 

Step change innovation



Resources and research

Connecting with the entrepreneurial ecosystem in China

29 June 2023 - CISL’s Canopy team ran a series of collaborative workshops and meetings in Beijing, Shanghai, Guanzhou and Hong Kong to map and engage local and international stakeholders supporting sustainability innovation in China. The events were part of CISL’s Centre for Sino UK Sustainability Innovation.

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Corporate activism when the stakes are high

26 April 2023 - How traditional organisations can navigate the space of corporate activism, by Aileen Noonan, Dina Khalifa and Jennifer Howard-Grenville.

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Board Leadership - Why the diversity of your board matters so much

16 March 2023 - Diversity is critical for board leadership. This is a central plank of our point of view. But what sort of diversity? In this fourth in a series of blogs examining questions of board leadership and governance, Prof Richard Calland tries to get under the bonnet of a difficult and delicate subject.

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Leadership for a sustainable future

17 July 2023

21 July 2023 - Report presenting the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership’s new Leadership for a Sustainable Future Framework. The framework is focused on developing and expanding leadership capacity and is designed to help individuals and collectives reflect on their own and others’ leadership practice.

Why we need to put love at the heart of our leadership

9 February 2022

11 January 2022 - Zoë Arden, CISL Fellow and Head Tutor of the Women Leading Change: Shaping Our Future online course, explores explores why we need to place love at the heart of our leadership to create genuine and lasting change.

The time for transformational leadership is now

26 January 2022

26 January 2022 - In this blog, Director of Leadership Programme, Gillian Secrett, considers the type of leadership we need now to deliver the future we want.

Webinar - Women Leading Change: Shaping Our Future, 3 February 2022

24 January 2022

Join Zoë Arden, CISL Fellow, and expert Contributors to the ' Women Leading Change: Shaping Our Future ' 8-week online programme to discuss their leadership journeys and own experiences female agents of change

Women Leading Change: Harnessing our resolve to deliver change in 2022

4 January 2022

4 January 2022 - In our first blog of the new year, Zoë Arden, CISL Fellow and Head Tutor of the Women Leading Change: Shaping Our Future online course, explores how we can harness our resolve to tackle environmental and social injustice to ensure 2022 is a year of significant progress.

The moment of truth?

15 November 2021

15 November 2021 - Eliot Whittington, Director of the Corporate Leaders Groups, argues COP26 was not the failure some have accused it of being - but now the onus is on businesses to prove their critics wrong

Women Leading Change: Shaping Our Future

22 October 2021

Course start dates 6 March 2024 19 June 2024 Is this course for you? The course is for anyone ready to lead change in organisations and society through systemic transformation. It will benefit current and aspiring leaders in the public, private, and non-profit sectors, providing fresh perspectives...

The road to Entopia

30 September 2021

30 September 2021 - Dame Polly Courtice, Emeritus Founder Director of the Cambridge Institute of Sustainability Leadership and Clare Shine, current Director and CEO reflect on CISL’s journey so far, and what the future holds as we move to our innovative new HQ, Entopia.

Q&A with CISL Director and CEO, Clare Shine

29 July 2021

July 2021 - After three months as Director and CEO of the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), Clare Shine shares her thoughts on what's next for the sustainability agenda, and the need for a collective focus on people, nature and climate.

Why the transition to net zero is business's business

8 April 2021

9 April 2021 - CISL Course Convenor Dimitri Zenghelis unpacks the three major climate change-related risks affecting organisations and illustrates the significant opportunities that will be gained from transitioning to a net zero carbon business model.

Advisory Services 

Find out how we help organisations build long-term resilience, gain competitive advantage and identify new opportunities
for value creation aligned with a transition to a sustainable economy.

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The Future of Boards

Find out how we are working with boards to build transformational leadership.

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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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