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Our story

NZLI was born out of a perceived need for more leadership. A sense that New Zealand’s businesses and communities were lacking the kind of leadership that would carry them forward.

2004 saw the launch of the Institute, known at that stage as ‘Excelerator’. Established as a charitable trust with the University of Auckland Business School as our founding partner, NZLI obtained the backing of several other organisations and endorsement by the great Sir Edmund Hillary, who remains the patron in perpetuity. These partners showed immense courage, foresight and trust in supporting a very new initiative tasked with addressing the rather intangible concept of leadership.

NZLI’s purpose has always centred on a desire to grow our understanding of leadership and to use this understanding to build leadership capacity within New Zealand and beyond. But there was no road map to follow, no answers as to how we might achieve this. Whilst daunting, this granted our team the freedom to act on instinct and the space to explore different directions.

Driven by curiosity, we plunged ourselves into the development space. We launched several different 18 month programme streams within our first two years. Ten years on, our development programmes continue to evolve, and these now sit in greater balance with our research activity, which we are finding more opportunities to pursue.

Leaders navigate but not in straight lines. Our journey to date has seen some tremendous milestones but it has also encountered a number of different turns and dead ends along the way. When people venture into unchartered territory, they very rarely follow a linear pathway. We have found our story through continual experimentation and feedback, which has relied heavily on interaction with our broader community. And we know that this story will continue to evolve as we persist in our quest to unpack this thing called leadership. In honour of the great Sir Ed, we will always keep exploring and not presume that our work is done.