Common Purpose

Common Purpose is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1989 that develops leaders who can cross boundaries. This enables them to solve complex problems both in organizations and in cities. We now run programmes in over 100 cities worldwide, and have more than 70,000 Alumni from over 100 countries and 6 continents. 

What we do

Common Purpose combines an extensive global network with an intense local focus. Our unrivalled convening power and independence allow us to bring together leaders from different backgrounds who would not normally meet. Our unique experiential facilitation techniques foster and accelerate leadership learning. We use our own thought leadership, including Leading Beyond Authority (LBA) and Cultural Intelligence (CQ), to inspire leaders to work together. On all our programmes, participants go out into cities to learn about real leadership, from real leaders.

The 70,000 Common Purpose Alumni worldwide are better equipped as leaders, and this has a positive impact on the organizations and cities that they operate in. They are able to build broader networks, make better decisions and drive bold innovation. Founded in 1989, 4,000 leaders now benefit from our programmes every year.

Common Purpose India

Thanks to startup sponsorship from Vodafone Foundation and ICICI Foundation, Common Purpose has been providing leadership development for the people of India since 2009. We run a range of leadership development programmes for students, emerging leaders and senior leaders.

Common Purpose India connects with global Common Purpose programmes - notably with the Dishaa Venture which expands, enriches and energises relations between India and the UK. For other global programmes please visit our global site.

Bhaskar Bhat, Managing Director - Titan Industries, Tata Group

"Common Purpose is, above all, about collaboration - between government, NGOs and corporate sectors. This unique combination has the maximum potential to drive radical change and Common Purpose provides a platform for sharing and learning across these sectors."

The Common Purpose Charter

The following is the Common Purpose Charter. It 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 organizations 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.

Read an article on 'Civil Society' written by Sir Ralph Dahrendorf for the Common Purpose magazine.


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 inspiration, skills 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 lead partnerships as well as organizations. 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 cities, organizations or individuals if they deliberately promoted the use of violence, opposed freedom of speech, 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. They seldom give up. 

Common Purpose Ethical Standards Policy