Leadership Embracing Complexity

The most pressing contemporary challenges - local, national and international – are frequently characterised by complexity, difference, disruption and conflict. The Birmingham Leadership Institute exists to research and develop the leadership required to make progress on them.

Currently in our start-up phase, the BLI formally launches in Autumn 2021. In these pages you can see the range of leadership development programmes and other work we are already running and hear about some of our plans for the future.

In addition to its own staff, the BLI draws on the University of Birmingham’s specialist research centres, international research community and communities of practice to ensure that the most up to date thinking and the most skilled leadership development practice is made available.

Our mission

The BLI’s mission is to:

  • Better understand, through research and practice, the leadership required at all levels to enable progress on complex organisational, social, political, environmental, commercial and economic challenges.
  • Educate, train and develop people with the knowledge, skills and capacities to practice this leadership.
  • Inform public debate and the public understanding of leadership.

Our values

We believe that leadership always reflects values. We value:

Collaborative leadership across boundaries, sectors, organisations, spatial levels and areas of life.

Inclusive leadership that promotes, reflects and prizes diversity and seeks to develop the leadership of others.

Responsible leadership that seeks to enable positive and sustainable outcomes for people, places and our planet.

Our activities

We have three main strands of activity:

1. Provide new insights from our leadership research and reflection-on-practice.

2. Deliver leadership education, training and development.

3. Provide open access leadership resources and programming and participate in public debate on leadership.

Our reach is:

Local/Regional – leadership research and development to support progress on complex challenges facing Birmingham and the West Midlands.

National – leadership research and development to support progress on complex challenges around the UK and nationally.

Global – leadership research and development to support progress on complex challenges globally with the international community in Birmingham and through the University of Birmingham’s existing global presence and networks.


We work with:

  • Private sector and commercial organisations who require the necessary leadership to grow and thrive in VUCA contexts
  • Public sector organisations seeking to exercise the leadership necessary to address the interconnected needs of the people and communities they serve
  • Third sector, community-based and campaigning organisations seeking to offer effective leadership on issues of concern
  • Combinations of these organisations who seek to exercise leadership across sectors to make an effective contribution to addressing shared challenges

The Birmingham Leadership Institute and The Exchange

The University of Birmingham’s The Exchange at the Old Municipal Bank in Centenary Square, Birmingham will create a new space for the University in the heart of our vibrant and diverse city. It will bring together communities and the public, private and third sectors to help shape the ideas and solutions that will make our cities and regions better places to live, work, and learn. 

The Exchange will act as the catalyst for a range of city and community focused research, teaching, and engagement activities (including exhibitions, talks, workshops, seminars, and lectures) as well as providing dedicated facilities for collaboration and co-creation across a number of key themes:

  • Driving regional economic growth  by using data and evidence to support public and private organisations to make better strategic decisions
  • Developing the business skills our city needs through our future skills initiative and innovative CPD
  • Preparing future leaders to succeed in an ever changing world and workplace
  • Inspiring communities by engaging & involving the public in research that matters

The Birmingham Leadership Institute is central to The Exchange - a place for curiosity, celebration, collaboration and change. Our regional, national and international focus will be key to providing both academic and practised based solutions to the toughest challenges.