Global Leadership Consultants

A Case Study on Purpose

A book on Purpose and How Decisions in Life are Shaping Leadership Journeys

Inroduction by Cyril Legrand

When my colleague Eve Simon inspired me to develop a book about purpose, it was a foregone conclusion. There is nothing more natural for our network of leadership practitioners than to extend our cooperation by sharing our “intrinsic motivation” with more people. So, what differentiates our unique, collaborative Oxford Leadership community in the universe of leadership consulting? It is living our raison d’être passionately. And we have successfully done so for more than twenty years.

We share a community that helps large organizations accelerate the sustainable growth of their leaders, teams, and bottom line through high-impact and transformational leadership as well as organizational culture interventions. We help leaders and their teams find deeper meaning in their work by connecting individual purpose to the higher purpose of the company. We have been constantly growing since the late 1090s, building a global network that is recognized worldwide today. The network has reinvented and transformed itself by going through the ups and downs of all entrepreneurial adventures and establishing strong partnerships with clients. We share at least two fundamental things as a community.

The first is that we are all completely committed to the same purpose: “Transforming Leaders for Good.” We strive to be consistent and aligned in this ambition which inspires us, guides us, and completes us. It is a strong link that transcends our egos and our differences to bring us back to what is fundamental: Why are we together? Why do we exist? What do we have to offer?

People have often asked me if purpose is something that remains unchanged, or if it is something that develops. I believe  it is a dynamic to be explored.

The second is that, before preaching to our clients and partners about the power of “meaning,” we have all, without exception, done deep personal work on our individual raison d’être. This is an essential element. How could we be credible and have an impact on our sector if we did not do thorough work ourselves? We have explored the twists and turns of self-awareness.

We have committed to a marvelous quest in search of what makes sense for each of us. It was certainly a foregone conclusion, a flash, one of those moments of realization which marks a before and after. For others, it was (and still is) an iterative journey, an enigmatic puzzle that makes us explore our path through life with introspection. It allows us to collect conclusions that clarify for everyone what is essential, what inspires us, what gives us contagious energy.

Oxford Leadership we have institutionalized the regular sharing of our lifelines. This is an excellent method to constantly get to know each other better and create intimacy, which feeds our social and operational unity. It is also a good exercise to benevolently share our strengths and weaknesses, to exchange our motivational levers, our aspirations and that which makes us better. It is never easy to be authentically oneself and give to others without fear. It is an act of courage and trust which cements our relations.

Personally, I have always found it fascinating and enriching to listen to these slices of life. They allow me to think about mine. They give me thought processes and make me work on my humility and detachment. They are often a source of inspiration and development.

Consequently, if we are together, how could we not propose to our colleagues that they share their experiences? How did they navigate their quests for meaning, live their purpose and create a capacity for sharing their learnings? Neither conceptual nor theoretical elements were shared, just slices of life, a part of them that they want to offer beyond our community.

I am excited to see the results come together. I know it ‘s work from the heart. It is representative of our mindset and the values that motivate it.

This reminds me of a commentary from one of our clients (the chief human resources officer of a leading global retailer) responding to someone who asked what made our community different from others. His response is representative and echoes what many others will say about us: “On paper many things can seem similar in terms of offers and services, but these leadership alchemists have a particular energy that emanates from them and an indescribable magnetism that greatly contributes to the success of their services. They create transformational experiences and have unique authenticity that is the result of humility and generosity which is rarely found elsewhere. They are exemplary. They walk their talk. It is not only about what they do, but it is also all about who they are.”

I am convinced that our collective commitment and personal work on meaning contributes to this difference. I am proud to belong to this community and to contribute to its development.

Are CEOs the new spiritual leaders of their communities in the 21stcentury? I think so.

With the board of directors on the project for the deployment of the company purpose for several weeks. We decided on a series of leadership development programs based on meaning and values. It would be accessible to all levels of seniority so all employees would benefit from it.

To give more substance to the initiative, we decided that, for each group that participated in a program, it would be possible for them to nominate a community or association that they want to support in the name of „AddingColor to People’s Lives.“

The day before the program, the group would go to the community of their choice and share a moment with them and repaint their facilities (which would have been prepared beforehand) to make good on their promise.

May arrived on the plains of Mumbai. In a small remote town, we committed to connect an isolated community to the periphery. We arrived before a group of small buildings whose colors were faded over time in a community that welcomed all those for whom no one is able nor wants to care. There were old people, people with special needs, orphans, and AIDS sufferers.

The fifteen people from our group were received with respect. We were given a presentation and a tour by those responsible. The residents sat in a line inside the building. As we passed by, a heavy silence was palpable. It was difficult to establish contact because a world truly separated us.

We started working, giving color to the living spaces and exterior equipment. The colors were chosen by the residents. We felt useful, like we were doing something meaningful

We were about to leave and thank our hosts when they approached me and suggested that I ask the group to please stay a little while longer. Around the exterior equipment that we had just partly restored, the nuns had installed audio equipment. They invited us to sit down and informed us that the community wished to share with us. We sat down on the ground in a semi-circle with the residents across from us. There were around ten individuals with special needs. Typically, Bollywoodesque music started to play, and those individuals began dancing with the support of their helpers. They looked at us intently. This deep eye contact was touching and deeply affected our group. It was their way of thanking us.

Despite their disabilities, they approached us and each one of them invited one of us to take part in the music and dancing. They took us by the hand and took communion. I saw the emotion overcome our participants. It was a  highly symbolic moment.

The contrast between this suspended and magical moment and our first contact during the presentation of the community was striking even if it did not last for more than five minutes. The images, emotions, and sensations are unforgettable. We got on the bus and everyone became quiet. Each one of them lived and incarnated what “Adding Colors to People’s Lives” means. The raison d’être was no longer an abstract concept but rather an emotional reality full of meaning. 

This is why I love my work. I feel great happiness, thanks to being able to share these magic moments which contribute to developing an authentic, truly humanistic leadership approach based on meaning and strong values.

It is never easy to give of oneself, to deliver oneself to others without masks. It is an act of courage and trust which cements our relations.

The workplace needs to actively contribute to this. I always separated private and professional domains, but I also maintained the deep conviction that the organization should be a place for self-realization. Only then can the workplace truly become a meaningful, healthy, and even healing habitat.

My professional experience was a determining factor in my quest for meaning. At first, the purpose was purely intuitive and very kinesthetic for me. I felt what was good for me, especially during transitional moments. In fact, it was only later on that I worked on this notion of raison d’être. For a long time, this was simply focused on a deep sentiment, a deep feeling, an intimate conviction of fully living in the moment. I had the feeling that I was where I should be and that I needed to get as many benefits out of it as possible.

This meant a certain clarity in my choices and decisions without me being able to explain why. It was all in my capacity to live in the moment and be connected to my feelings. Then the feeling of elevation arrived. I put painful events and moments of intense happiness in order and added meaning to them, thus getting an overview. Things fell into place. The events contributed to something very rewarding, a consciousness accelerator and a realization.I was aligned and congruent.

People have often asked me if purpose is something that remains unchanged, or if it is something that develops. I believe it is a dynamic to be explored. It is only found at the fringes of our experiences. However, it is only by observation and reflection on these experiences that meaning appears. Only by connecting the different elements can a coherent and — for me — really transcendent purpose emerge.

I hope that our book will not only provide you with a deeper understanding about the Oxford Leadership community, but will inspire you to embark on your own rewarding quest for meaning.

Cyril Legrand
Founding Partner, Oxford Leadership


Purpose: How Decisions in Life are Shaping Leadership Journeys

22 Authentic and Bold Stories to inspire you to lead a life and business on purpose.

Talking about purpose is easy. Sure, we all want it – but how do we actually find ours? Be inspired by the 22 deeply personal stories of how finding purpose transformed the authors’ lives. Find yourself inter stories. Read this gem of a book and you will instantly look at your own purpose through a fresh new lens. Powerfull!

Achim Nowak
Author/Business Thinker/ C-Suite Success Coach

Available on Amazon

Talking about purpose is easy. Sure, we all want it – but how do we actually find ours? Be inspired by the 22 deeply personal stories of how finding purpose transformed the authors’ lives. Find yourself inter stories. Read this gem of a book and you will instantly look at your own purpose through a fresh new lens. Powerfull!

Achim Nowak
Author/Business Thinker/ C-Suite Success Coach

"We understand that we will never understand, however, we will stand with you and use our voice to amplify yours" #BLM