About Us

Common Purpose (Ireland) Ltd. is a not-for-profit organisation that brings together people from a wide range of backgrounds to help them become more effective leaders in society.

What We Do

Common Purpose runs a number of leadership development programmes for people at different stages in their career.

The programmes vary in length and content but they all involve participants and contributors from the private, public and voluntary sectors. This mix is an integral and unique feature of Common Purpose programmes, where the aim is to bring together people who might ordinarily never meet in their day to day working lives.

The programmes are facilitated by experienced professional staff and contributors come from a huge range of backgrounds and sectors. For example: from the legal profession, business, finance, manufacturing, retail, transport, politics, through to those from faith organisations, community groups, charities and aid agencies. Contributors are leaders in their own organisations and therefore able to provide fascinating insights into how they lead and how they work with other bodies and individuals.

The format for Common Purpose programmes is not classroom based learning. Instead participants are encouraged to step outside their usual environment and grapple with real-life problems at first hand.

This means they visit places they might never see or experience. For example, prisons; housing developments; manufacturing plants; stock exchanges; headquarters of public and private companies; hospices; charities and government departments. And there is an opportunity to see at first hand how decisions are made in a wide range of settings, including magistrates' courts, town halls, boardrooms and council chambers.

This helps participants gain an understanding, not only of how other organisations function, but also how leaders in those organisations are held accountable in different ways. For example: a leader working for a political party may be held accountable in a very different way to a leader whose primary responsibility is for delivering humanitarian aid, or to a leader charged with delivering regular profits for shareholders.

What underpins all Common Purpose programmes is a belief that society benefits from people of all ages, backgrounds and cultures working together to help guide and shape the future of their organisations and communities. This is best achieved when leaders are able to realise their full potential, through broadening their horizons and establishing firm roots in their communities.

Common Purpose Ireland

Common Purpose started in the UK in 1989 and to date more than 40,000 people have participated in the programmes. Common Purpose Ireland was launched in 1996.


Common Purpose started in the United Kingdom in 1989 and to date, more than 40,000 people have participated in our leadership development courses internationally.

The idea spread, and Common Purpose programmes are currently run in France, Germany, Ghana, India, Sweden, Turkey, Ireland, Hungary and South Africa.

Common Purpose (Ireland) Ltd. was launched in 1996.

The programmes are well established in Cork, Dublin and the Mid West region. Our Common Purpose community in Ireland continues to grow.

Our speakers, host organisations and participants alike create impact and sustainability in our country through their collaborative approach to leading change in their respective communities.


Professor Charles Handy, Writer and social philosopher

"Of all the leadership programmes that I know of, those run by Common Purpose are by far the best... Civil society in a wide range of countries has benefited hugely."

Our Charter

The Common Purpose Charter guides all our work across the world.


In every society, there is an invisible, vital 'space'. It lies between the individual and the state, between the immediate responsibilities facing each individual and the institutional responsibilities of the government. It is a place where people come together and act for the greater good. And it is open to everyone, from every sector of society.

In an unhealthy society, this space is empty. People leave the decisions to governments. They are active in their private lives, but passive towards the world around them.

In a healthy society, this space is full. It teems with individuals, businesses, community organisations and political groups. It is alive with energy and entrepreneurial activity. People hold institutions and the powerful to account. They oppose and propose. And, free from the short-term pressures, they can think and act for the longer term and in the wider interest of society.

At Common Purpose, we have a passionate belief in the importance of this space. In our view, this is at the core of society. Active not passive. Involving the best leadership from all parts of the community.


Our aim is to fill this space with as many people as possible - people who may not see themselves as leaders in a traditional sense - and to give them the knowledge, inspiration and connections they need to be effective. To encourage all kinds of people into it - and to see all kinds of initiatives come out of it. To discover new leaders in the bustling crowd - and to show the lone voices that they are not alone.

We develop leaders who can lead beyond their direct area of authority. Who can sustain broader perspectives and who are confident in making connections between quite different groups of people and reconciling different worlds.

We believe that they will then be able to counterbalance the forces of fragmentation in society, getting communities to work better together. They will be better at using and combining scarce resources. And though they may only seldom produce huge shifts, they will deliver the accumulation of many small ones from which most change emerges.


As we create a common educational experience within and across many countries, Common Purpose remains independent and non-aligned. We are always balanced and owe no historical or other allegiance to any other group. Our independence is reflected in our governance, finances, partnerships, behaviour and curriculum.

Professional teams create innovative and ingenious ways of working to ensure that all Common Purpose activities are high quality, stimulating, imaginative and fun. The internationally recognised Chatham House Rule is respected on all programmes as an aid to free discussion. We draw on the widest possible variety of sectors, areas, beliefs and social groups. We would only exclude organisations or individuals if they deliberately promoted the use of violence or incited race or religious hatred. We aim to be self-financing but work hard so that inability (as distinct from unwillingness) to pay is not a barrier to involvement in our activities.

Common Purpose staff behave as leaders themselves, delivering quality, taking risks, building on successes, adapting and evolving as society does across time and place and context. They seldom give up.