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New Leadership Development Manager appointed

We are delighted to announce Dr Sue Watson has been appointed Leadership Development Manager at NZLI. She will oversee our programme portfolio and lead the facilitation team while also being involved at the coalface of programme design and delivery.

Sue was previously Global CEO of the expat organisation Kea, as well as chief executive of the Asia Pacific enterprise of the Commonwealth Education Trust. She brings strong business networks and a proven track record in strategy and business development as well as developing and facilitating leadership development workshops.

After earning a Doctorate in education, Sue accepted an academic post and gained experience in research and lecturing at the tertiary level in both New Zealand and the United States, specifically the Consortium for Policy Research in Education at The University of Pennsylvania. Her previous education experience also includes being co-founder of an export educational publishing company and consultancy.

Out of the office, Sue has also served in several directorships and is currently Chair of CORT Community Housing, a large social housing trust, as well as Judge of the New Zealand Hi-Tech Awards.

Dr Watson says, ‘I am delighted to be joining the team at NZLI to support the development and delivery of leadership programmes to grow leadership capability throughout New Zealand. After a career as an academic and then in business and not for profit leadership I’m committed to bringing the best of applied leadership research and practice together.”

NZLI merger will strengthen and enhance New Zealand leadership

After a close relationship spanning 14 years, we are excited to announce that NZLI is merging with the University of Auckland Business School, a founding partner of the Institute since 2003.

NZLI already has its physical home within the Business School and the merger will create a much stronger foundation of resources and services, and enable closer working relationships with other UABS departments and centres.

“The merger formalises and strengthens our existing relationship,” says Business School Dean Professor Jayne Godfrey. “It will allow us to capitalise on synergies by drawing on the great work conducted within both NZLI and the Business School, itself a thought-leader in this field.”

NZLI works at the forefront of leadership research and development. NZLI Director, Vicki Watson says the institute will continue to run its open and customised leadership development offerings, including its flagship Leadership Mindset and Executive Leadership Mindset programmes.

“The merger will, however, enable us to develop new programmes for University students and staff, add to our portfolio of programmes for business as well as enter exciting new sector projects such as those in the not-for-profit, governance, and youth worlds,” she says.

“NZLI’s mission is to see New Zealand’s business and communities thriving under effective, courageous leadership. That is reflected directly in what the Business School is wanting too in cultivating enterprising and enlightened leaders.”

The merger is effective from August 14, 2017.


Take a taster session for developing leadership mindsets: 10 November 2016

This is a second offering of the successful session we held on 23 August

What kind of leadership does it take for managers to create momentum and mobilise action when facing challenges and opportunities?

Join us to gain valuable insights into developing leadership for you and your organisation.

Hear from Dr Lester Levy, Head of NZLI, with Associate Professor Brigid Carroll how challenging mindsets creates more collaborative and innovative leadership.

Date & Time

Thursday 10 November

6.00-7.15pm followed by conversations over refreshments


The University of Auckland Business School

Level 3, Decima Glenn Room, Owen G Glenn Building, 12 Grafton Road, Auckland

There is no charge to attend this session

>> Register here to attend

Contact Ann Moore to find out more

DDI: 09 923 8807



26 July 2016

Seminar: Thinking differently about leadership

The New Zealand Leadership Institute, the University of Auckland Business School's Department of Management and International Business with Suze Wilson, from Massey University invite you to a provocative interactive seminar – to build from Suze’s recently published book 'Thinking differently about leadership: A critical history of leadership studies'.

Presenter: Suze Wilson (Massey University)
Date: Tuesday 26 July 2016
Time: 10am - 12pm
Venue: Decima Glenn Room, Level 3, University of Auckland Business School, 12 Grafton Road, Auckland

Attendees can expect a provocative short synopsis of Suze’s recent book followed by a facilitated interactive panel discussion with questions. The workshop will take a hard look at some of the current thinking on leadership. In particular, this workshop will explore the idea that leadership aims to produce change, and consider—paradoxically—how in fact leadership may serve to reproduce the status quo in ways that favour elite interests.

Dr Suze Wilson lectures at the School of Management at Massey University. Her research interests focus on leadership; how we have come to understand leadership in the way we do now; and theorising and practising leadership in ways that are more inclusive and humble.





For more information and to register please contact:

Ann Moore  Email: 




April 2016

Responsible Leadership: Realism and Romanticism

Edited by Brigid Carroll and Steve Kempster (2016)


It is time for the development of a new kind of business leadership.

Global needs call for a revision of market capitalism and a move towards moral capitalism; a move "from value to values, from shareholders to stakeholders, and from balance sheets to balanced development" (Kofi Annan).

With the challenge of this transition in mind, this book argues that it is time for a new understanding of leadership, a new romanticism which looks behind the overvalued, heroic leadership notion.

Editors Associate Professor Brigid Carroll, NZLI Director of Research and Professor Steve Kempster, Director of the Lancaster Leadership Centre at Lancaster University of Management School, explore a romanticized rhetoric and situate it within current discourses of authentic, distributed and ethical leadership, where societal, economic and environmental challenges require us to take a collective lead towards doing good and growing well.

Exploring this dichotomy of romantic ideal and essential requirement, this book combines the insights of leading academics and with those of practitioners in the field.

Thought-provoking and engaging it will challenge both thinking and practice, and is essential reading for all those operating or researching in the field of leadership, particularly those who realize the overwhelming challenges of sustainability, and corporate social responsibility which the world now faces.

Find our more to order >>


February 2016

Geoff Warne: Reflections of Leadership by a global CEO

Reflections are many-faceted. New Zealander Geoff Warne spoke with unusual candour and shed light on various aspects of his leadership experiences over the past ten years as General Director of The Leprosy Mission International (TLMI) based in London.

It was the perfect opportunity, while Geoff was briefly home in February, for NZLI to ask him to share his insights with a wider audience at a special NZLI event.

Over the past ten years NZLI’s leadership research and development programmes have centred on the theoretical perspective that leadership occurs as a practice, rather than residing in the traits or behaviours of particular individuals.

Geoff’s reflections exemplified the shift from traditional assumptions of leadership attributed to an individual in a hierarchical position to a relational leadership practice.

We asked Geoff to address the question:

"What does it take to recognise drivers for change given the diverse political, economic and cultural complexities of a global organisation that spans 32 countries – half in the global North and half in the South?"

Critical driver for change

Firstly, when Geoff became General Director at TLMI, having previously been on the organisation’s International Board, he discovered a facet of the 140 year-old organisation that was previously unknown to him, which became a key driver for change.

Following a period of inquiry and conversations Geoff recognised discontent that was directed at the International Office – it was at the top of the hierarchy and seen as the hub of the problem.

In one hemisphere the country leaders primarily located in the global south, whose role was to implement leprosy programmes, felt disempowered by the organisation’s decision-making structures. In the global north, country leaders whose role was to raise funds for the programmes were frustrated by current regional business models.

Consequently a lengthy change initiative began. By listening, challenging assumptions and the prevailing practices, The Leprosy Mission Fellowship was created, a federal organisation. As Geoff explained, “It was a relational rather than a structural solution.” That meant “the main focus was on how we would work together. The key principal underpinning the solution was that amongst the 32 country entities, whether small, large, weak or strong, all were equally valued,” said Geoff. Decisions were redirected to be made nearer the action by people who knew the situation.

These changes were successfully achieved through a depth of mutual love and trust, retaining the values and essence of what The Leprosy Mission wanted to be. Geoff emphasised, “The change process was strongly supported by a shared understanding of the organisation’s Christian identity, purpose, and the peoples’ sense of calling and concern for those people who are marginalised.”

Ongoing leadership challenges

Now, in 2016 as Geoff is taking a closer look at the organisation, he reflected on the diverse and dynamic leadership challenges from economic, political and cultural frames. He recognises that although changes that have been implemented have had positive effects, there are facets in such a global complex cause-related organisation that require new questions, debate, and ways of thinking and addressing strategic directions.

Economically, although the model was functionally well with a more efficient and cost effective International Office, he is unsure whether or not more revenue is actually being raised than previously. Due to dispersed decisions challenges exist in allocating resources across the countries and programmes.

From the political frame, despite a well-defined and accepted Charter with rules and accountability mechanisms, clearer paths and greater inclusions in decision making—there are challenges in some countries where local governance is still not well developed. Geoff recognised that leadership development has been slow for implementing countries and needs focussed attention.

Across the culturally diverse organisation a global set of core beliefs and shared values, along with greater assertiveness by the programme implementing countries has been achieved. The ongoing challenge is that money still speaks loudest unless this is continually resisted. Geoff has been surprised that despite information and knowledge about cross-cultural differences, there remains a lack of understanding, which causes conflict and manifests in clashes between post-colonialism and a ‘we know best’ mentality.

Geoff’s core leadership practices

However insightful Geoff’s stories were, those present at the event really wanted to know the ‘hows’ of his leadership practice. Not easy in a short timeframe. At NZLI we know that leadership isn’t as easy as a list of action bullet points. And yet, Geoff admirably distilled the essential practices that have guided his leadership, which are:

  • Love the organisation with a fierce loyalty, not just the people, the organisation itself.
  • Listen to everyone, especially the ‘weak signals from the periphery’ where the greatest insights may be. Active listening becomes one of the most important CEO roles.
  • Model yourself as leader of leaders: coach, adviser, servant leader. Be aware that what you say/don’t say, do/don’t do, has at times a surprisingly big effect on people.
  • Believe in and live by the organisation’s values: The Leprosy Mission ‘DNA’ is love, justice, inclusion, integrity, humility. Actively engage in ensuring the right values are adopted and practised.
  • Give up power and decide to trust. Genuinely value people, working on the assumption that they will strive to make good decisions through mutual trust, dialogue, applying the values, all within the agreed accountability frameworks. Giving up power actually increased the willingness of Member countries and decision-making groups to seek CEO’s input, but not on the previously imposed hierarchical terms.
  • Intuition within ambiguity. CEOs must have high tolerance for ambiguity. Intuition has a role to play that comes through knowing when to intervene, when to hold back, or wait and see. To do this well, CEO needs ‘intelligence’, a general awareness of what’s going on everywhere.
  • Be attuned to North-South dynamics and the conflict that can flow from misunderstandings – especially where the Global North acts as if it thinks it has the knowledge as well as the money.

Giving up power

During audience interactions and discussions, Associate Professor Brigid Carroll, NZLI Director of Research, asked Geoff to elaborate on his remarks about giving up power. She asked:

     “If you give up power – then what are you leading?”

That wasn’t an easy question to answer. However, Geoff was clear that when command-and-control is set aside leadership is in creating the space for other forms of leadership to surface. He does this with others in creating agreed systems and process; taking on an ‘interpreter’ role in relationships; ‘bringing the outside in’ of the external-internal interface; and finding ways of freeing people up so they thrive. He was clear that, “People need to see and engage with the CEO.”

NZLI greatly appreciated the opportunity to engage with Geoff and provide the platform for him as a University of Auckland alumnus, to share his reflections and experiences. As Jilnaught Wong, Deputy Dean of the University of Auckland Business School said after Geoff’s talk, “I left thinking: that’s a different kind of leader who has made a massive impact internationally and has not lined his pockets with millions of dollars - he served the international communities in a most worthy cause.


July 2015

Time to redefine executive leadership

Being in a senior leadership role in 2015 requires a radically different mindset than it did five years ago as executive leaders are faced with increasingly complex challenges.

“Now, no one person can say ‘follow me, I have the answer’,” says Joline Francoeur, Director of Leadership Programmes at the New Zealand Leadership Institute (NZLI).

“Business today requires a different kind of leadership that’s more agile, interconnected and engages with sharper practical wisdom and judgement.

“The minute you free yourself from needing to have all the answers, you open yourself and others to think and do things differently.”

NZLI has created a programme for directors, CEOs and senior executives. Because of dynamic operating contexts, new ways of thinking and practices geared to working with disruptive changes are needed to redefine and grow excellent executive leadership.

This programme has been developed to also assist C-Suite leaders to expand their leadership influence across different business units, organisations and sectors.

 Joline is one of the programme designers and facilitators along with Dr Lester Levy and Associate Professor Brigid Carroll.

“In conversation with CEOs in our programmes, it’s clear that we’ve hit the mark in providing a leadership stretch in an environment for leaders to re-examine their own thinking and fuel their continual leadership learning,” Joline says.

The programme is structured to fit into professional schedules, delivered in four one-day workshops several months apart.

Redefining Executive Leadership Programme

For information about the new NZLI leadership programme for executives - read more >> 


December 2014 

Well-deserved reward and recognition for Associate Professor Brigid Carroll

We are delighted to announce Dr Brigid Carroll, Director of Research at NZLI, has been promoted to Associate Professor and also recognised for her outstanding contribution to leadership research, education and development at the University of Auckland Business School.

Brigid’s sustained research excellence in the field of leadership has been rewarded with a prestigious Research Excellence Award that acknowledges her leadership and contribution to the Business School, New Zealand and International leadership research environments.

Dr Lester Levy, Director of NZLI and Adjunct Professor of Leadership at the Business School, says, “Brigid’s achievements highlight the important role of undertaking critical research to better understand leadership with the aim to advance effective leadership in organisations and communities, both nationally and internationally.”

A founding member of the New Zealand Leadership Institute, Brigid’s leadership research and development work is central to the integrated nature of research and development at NZLI. She is co-architect and lead facilitator of leadership development programmes alongside Joline Francoeur, Director of Leadership Programmes.

Particular leadership research areas that Brigid has recently focussed on includes identity, leadership and management, leadership development, relational leadership, authenticity and in the everyday leadership practices within and across organisations.

Recent publications

Journal articles

Nicholson, H., & Carroll, B. (2013). Identity undoing and power relations in leadership development. Human Relations, 66(9), 1225-1248.

Nicholson, H. L., & Carroll, B. (2014). Resistance and struggle in leadership development. Human Relations. 67(11)

Edited Book

Carroll, B., Ford, J & Taylor, S. (eds) (In Press) Leadership: Contemporary Critical Perspectives. London: Sage

Book Chapters

Carroll, B. (In Press). ‘Leadership, learning and development’. In Carroll, B., Ford, J & Taylor, S. (Eds) Leadership: Contemporary Critical Perspectives. London: Sage

Carroll, B., & Simpson, B. (In press). ‘Capturing sociality in the movement between frames: An illustration from leadership development.’ In R. Hall, D. Grant & J. Raelin (Eds) Leadership Development & Practice. London: Sage

Carroll, B., Levy, L. & Richmond, D. (In press). ‘Leadership as Practice: Challenging the Competency Paradigm’. In R. Hall, D. Grant & J. Raelin (Eds) Leadership Development & Practice. London: Sage

Carroll, B. & Firth, J. (Accepted). ‘Studying leadership processes and power’. In Storey et al (Eds) The Routledge companion to leadership. Forthcoming

Nicholson, H. & Carroll, B. (2013). So you want to be authentic in your leadership: To whom and for what end? Authentic Leadership: Clashes, Convergences, and Coalescences. Ladkin, D. & Spiller, C. (Eds) Edward Elgar Pub: Cheltenham, UK