A new generation of wise thinkers & good leaders

Character is at the heart of what it means to be human. We champion good character for responsible leadership that helps individuals and organisations to flourish.

Putting character first

Good leadership is central to the flourishing of organisations, society, and the natural world. But what does good leadership look like in a world of complexity and uncertainty? At the Oxford Character Project, we focus on the human dynamics of leadership and the qualities of character that enable leaders to build trust, think with clarity, embrace diversity, empower others, and persevere through difficult times.

Character is the guiding core of who we are – a mosaic of personal qualities that are developed over time and govern how we consistently perceive, think, feel, and act. We conduct interdisciplinary research on character and leadership that draws on the humanities and social sciences to help develop a new generation of wise thinkers and good leaders.

Our mission

Good leadership can change the world for the better. Our mission is to help leaders develop the character they need to navigate the challenges of our time and make an impact for good.

Our research

We explore the empirical and conceptual dimensions of character and leadership, combining insights from the humanities and social sciences with cross-sector industry research.

Our programmes

We design and deliver leadership development programmes for students and professionals, enabling them to lead across boundaries and contribute positively to organisations and society.

Partnerships for impact

We are working with 20 industry partners to advance character and responsible leadership in the context of business through our research. Supported by the John Templeton Foundation, and in partnership with the Forward Institute, we are conducting a three-year £2.6m research project into character, culture, and leadership in UK businesses.

Our partners also include academics, centres, and programmes at universities around the world, including the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University, the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues at the University of Birmingham, Lead for Life at the University of Hong Kong, LSE LIFE at the London School of Economics, and the Program for Leadership and Character at Wake Forest University.

Mary Johnstone Louis
The Oxford Character Project explores the values and purpose that are central to good leadership and a flourishing life. Its research and programmes will benefit organisations and leaders from all walks of life who seek to grow in their ability to contribute to a better future for all.

Dr Mary Johnstone-Louis

Senior Research Fellow, Oxford Said Business School, Programme Director, The Ownership Project, and Chair, B Lab UK