United Kingdom

Customized programmes

We customize leadership programmes for organizations across the UK: from the private sector, to universities, to the voluntary sector.


Organisations increasingly need leaders who can lead beyond their sphere of authority, and who can work seamlessly beyond the traditional silos of function, geography and culture. The best leaders are those who thrive in unfamiliar contexts and who can collaborate effectively to produce innovative solutions. Leaders need to be agile and adaptable in order to lead diverse teams and manage stakeholders.

Common Purpose has specialised in cross-boundary leadership development since 1989. We use an experiential approach and our own thought leadership to customise leadership development programmes for all sectors.

What do we bring?

We combine a robust, intellectual framework of thought leadership with experiential learning techniques. We take participants out of the classroom into the city, connecting them with diverse senior leaders. As a result, Common Purpose programmes have a deep effect on our participants, both as a group and at an individual leadership level.

We give leaders the inspiration, skills and connections they need to produce lasting change.

Common Purpose is known for its experiential approach which immerses participants in new contexts, beyond their comfort zone. We take participants into prisons, schools, hospitals, production plants and onto trading floors: environments they are unlikely to encounter otherwise.

For over 26 years, we have seen how working and learning beyond the traditional office environment has a significant personal and professional impact on leaders, enabling them to think and operate differently, creatively and innovatively. New contexts catalyse lasting leadership development.

Participants go on an intense learning journey involving real experiences with real people and real context. We create a safe place to practise new leadership behaviours and an opportunity to look afresh at organisational leadership challenges.

Common Purpose has built a profound knowledge of leadership development and created a range of programmes so that participants learn a new approach to leadership.

They gain the skills to operate effectively in unfamiliar territory with leaders who may be very different from themselves. We take leaders beyond the world of their own organisation and make them more effective in the outside world too. We call this Leading Beyond Authority.

As people learn to lead beyond their lines of authority, they need to be able to cross boundaries: between east and west, and north and south, between faiths and beliefs, between public, private and voluntary sectors, and between generations. For this they will need Cultural Intelligence (CQ): the ability to cross divides and thrive in multiple cultures.

We design and deliver tailored leadership development programmes for leaders across the private, public and not-for-profit sectors. Our UK offices bring both deep, local knowledge and widespread connections through our extensive global alumni community of 50,000, our network of associates and 150,000+ supporters around the world. Our convening power is one of our greatest strengths – it means that, across the UK, we can give participants on our programmes rare access to organisations and their leaders, through which they gain unrivalled insight.

Olly Arber, Director of Digital, Nesta

“It taught me that leadership is something that must be practised, and that the idea of actually doing leadership, of demonstrating the behaviour we want to see in others, was vital. The course allowed me to go back to my organisation and ask the bigger questions about the work we are doing. It gave me the confidence to step outside my normal ring fence and bring together wider groups to help create change.”

We use a range of techniques and adjust these elements for a different emphasis subject to your needs. 


Our InnoVenture is a technique that helps organisations to develop innovative solutions to complex challenges. We have used the InnoVenture technique to help to create surprising and game-changing answers to a wide range of problems.


A Collab takes participants beyond their current role to develop the collaborative leadership skills needed to work across departments, organisations, sectors and society.

Immersion experiences

We take your leaders behind the scenes of a city, whether familiar or unfamiliar to them, to find out how it works. We don’t take the tourist routes; we visit a range of organisations and their leaders, across the different sectors – or deep dive into one organisation, taking part in their activities to learn about leadership issues in the city through their eyes.

Dr Rupert Suckling, Director of Public Health, Doncaster Council

“The Common Purpose approach was co-designed, broke down organisational and professional boundaries, and inspired and motivated people to act on their convictions. We learnt as much about ourselves as we did about the challenge and that has helped us not only reframe the challenge but also altered our perception of innovation.”

Participants from Health and Social Care organisations explore a challenge on a recent InnoVenture

Jonathan Reed, Head of Operations – Farmers Boy, Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC Macmillan

“The immersion week was an incredible experience. I have no doubt it will have a lasting impact on my leadership. It has given me a fresh perspective on how to approach complex challenges, exposed me to different leadership styles and made me think about how to influence in situations where there are competing stakeholder and ethical concerns.”