Cambridge Institute of Sustainability Leadership

Rewiring Leadership for High Impact (Sustainability Leadership Labs)

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About the course

The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) Labs bring together professionals to test and challenge cutting-edge responses to global problems.

The Sustainability Leadership Labs offer an opportunity to learn from and network with around 25 other senior practitioners from different industries and sectors. The immersive two-day face to face programme includes elements of co-creation, group activity, journaling work, reflection, peer to peer coaching and pair work. Students leave the course having created a personal leadership plan

The challenge

There is growing public expectation that businesses must step up and take responsibility for delivering positive outcomes for society and the environment. The commercial case for business responsibility and action is increasingly clear. This will, however, require the reframing of the fundamental purpose of business, and the transformation of whole organisations, sectors and value chains – in other words, the ‘rewiring’ of the economy.

Many traditional leadership frameworks and approaches focus on helping leaders succeed within current economic and social systems, rather than equipping leaders to shape those systems for the future. There is an urgent need for new approaches to leadership development that build the capacity of individuals, organisations and wider society to drive such transformation and have a global impact.

Rewiring leadership for high impact

This Lab invites participants to develop a shared vision for ambitious leadership that drives the change needed to reconcile commercial success with wider societal outcomes. In identifying the key leadership dilemmas faced in such transformation, the Lab explores the values, thinking and practice needed to achieve meaningful impact, grappling with key questions such as:

  • How should we define leadership ‘impact’ so that it reflects the most urgent challenges facing the economy, society and the environment?
  • What role does ‘purpose’ play at an individual and organisational level in achieving that impact?
  • What knowledge and skills are needed to maximise leadership impact?
  • How can we build collective capacity for change beyond a single ‘hero’ leader?
  • How can leaders remain adaptive, innovative and resilient as they navigate complex dilemmas and challenges?

Benefits of attending

This two-day short course will be highly interactive with group discussions, practical exercises, personal reflection and insights from leadership scholars and practitioners.

By participating, you will:

  • Explore what ‘high impact’ leadership looks like in the light of pressing economic, social and environmental pressures and opportunities
  • Share insights into key dilemmas facing leaders in bringing about transformative change, and start identifying the essential leadership capabilities to navigate these dilemmas
  • Reflect together on purpose, values and worldviews, and what it looks like to align personal purpose with your professional and wider societal goals
  • Experiment with strategies and tools for influencing and inspiring others
  • Explore what it looks like to nurture collective capacity for change
  • Participate in building resilience and capacity to adapt.
  • Engage with problem-based learning exercises with the goal of deepening understanding of and solutions to some of the key leadership challenges. These may include long terms vs short term thinking, misalignment between personal purpose and organisational purpose; and resistance to change or a clash in diverse values

Who should attend

This Lab will convene a range of individuals who are committed to delivering high impact. We believe it will be beneficial for individuals in business who are seeking to enhance their impact in wider society, those working in sustainability/CSR roles looking to refine their leadership capabilities, and those with responsibility for developing new leadership capabilities within their organisation (eg L&D, HR).

Applications to the Lab will be based on the suitability of candidates.

Trust the experts

Zoë Arden

Zoë Arden, Fellow, CISL - Zoë had a career in communications before moving into sustainability and latterly focusing on sustainability storytelling and leadership. She supports change agents in business to build compelling narratives that drive action. Companies she has worked with include Accent...


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