Common Purpose

A unique leadership development programme for senior leaders, rooted locally in Cork.


What is Focus?

Focus is a local leadership programme focusing on issues unique to senior Cork business leaders from all sectors and backgrounds.

Over six days, participants examine their locality and the world that surrounds it. They explore a range of real-life leadership challenges - based in anything from a prison to a casualty unit; a trading floor to a production plant; a rehab centre to a radio station - in small groups, learning constantly from each other, the contributors and the experience of operating in very unfamiliar situations.

The result is that participants develop an understanding of how their area really works, the impact of their decisions and become more effective leaders at work and in wider society.

Eoin MacCuirc, Assistant Principal, Dissemination Unit, Central Statistics Office

"I was interested in doing the Focus programme because it is so broad and cross-sectoral.  I work for a government department as well as voluntarily for not-for-profit organizations and in all these roles I have to be able to communicate well with private organizations and individuals. Often people in different sectors speak completely different languages and it's important to me to be able to break down these 'language barriers'."

Who is Focus for?

Focus is for senior leaders who are already experienced at delivering objectives and managing people and priorities. It is ideal for leaders who are responsible for developing local and regional partnerships, engaging with internal or external stakeholders and working across several locations or divisions, as well as those who simply want to broaden their horizons.

As with all our open programmes, the participant groups on Focus are diverse in terms of background, experience, sector, outlook and approach. Participants share and challenge each other and generally discover that this diversity - far from being a weakness - provides a key strength of the programme.


Participants can expect to:

  • become more accustomed to going outside their familiar environment and better able to adapt to new situations.
  • develop lasting working relationships with people they would almost certainly never have met otherwise.
  • learn how to lead in situations where they have no authority and how to become the kinds of people who can build and lead collaborations when required.
  • become responsible leaders who understand their local surroundings - in the national and international context - and the impact of their decisions.
  • discover how their own language, behaviour and preconceptions can get in their way as leaders.
  • find out when and how they can make their own contribution in society.

Michael Magner, Proprietor, Fitzgeralds Vienna Woods Hotel

"I found that my preconceptions were challenged by certain contributors and site visits - the honesty, frankness and energy of a public sector employee that we met were both inspiring and enlightening to me. We got great insights into how things work, how intricate and complex things are, and how people cope with great challenge.  The interactivity of the course, through the myriad of different speakers and participants, worked very well for me, as a person who would find 'book learning' very boring."

Programme Format and Location

More about the Focus programme format

Focus is a six-day programme that spans a six month period. On each programme day, the participant group meets at a different venue within the area so as to give them a range of perspectives.

Together they work on real-life challenges, collaborate with their peers from different sectors, attend site visits, quiz experts, explore solutions with panel discussions and  expose themselves to different approaches to leadership throughout.

Where are Focus programmes held?

Focus is run in Cork only at present.

How can I apply to attend a Focus programme?

For more information and to obtain an application form for the programme, contact the Common Purpose team.

For more about the overall application process and to initiate the process online, please visit the application page.

Programmes for senior leaders

check out our upcoming courses

Programme Start date Audience
Meridian 2019 28 February 2019 - 4 month programme Senior leaders Contact us
Profile 2019 26 & 27 June 2019 Senior leaders Contact us

Applying to the programme

How to apply

Download an application form using the link in this page's header and send it via email or post to your local Common Purpose Dublin office.

For more informations about the overall application process or for general questions, please get in touch using the online enquiries form.

What is the cost to attend Focus?

The programme fee is €4,000.

Bursaries and financial assistance

If you cannot pay the full fee, please do not be deterred from applying. There are a number of bursary places provided on every Common Purpose programme for participants who are genuinely unable - as opposed to unwilling - to meet the full fee. If you would like to be considered for a bursary, please fill in the section of the application form for bursary candidates. For guidance or information, please contact us.

Everyone who has completed a Common Purpose programme will be offered a 20% reduction on the fee of any future courses they attend. Please notify us in your programme application if you wish to apply for this reduction.