The500 – Creating leaders that future generations will be proud of

Claire Kennedy, The500 Consultant

April 29, 2022

The500 – Creating leaders that future generations will be proud of


“Irrelevance happens when the speed of change outside an organization is greater than the speed of change inside an organization”


Rick Warren, Author, The Purpose Driven Life.


The above sums up where most companies are now. There is an unprecedented level of change in the world today; from Covid-19 and the changes to ways of working, the great resignation, the cost-of-living crisis, and the dire situation in Ukraine, all of which have a significant impact on organizations. The past couple of years has also underpinned the growing convergence between business and society with employees increasingly looking to be proud of the role their organization plays in making the world a better place.


We all need to feel like we have a greater purpose, it helps us to perform at our best. Leaders who don’t evolve to deal with these changes, and the impact they have on their teams will find themselves struggling to motivate, lead and inspire their people. But those who can bring their teams together in this increasingly unpredictable environment will thrive – building strong connections that will act as the foundation for success.


“Over the last year, more than 8 in 10 (82%) consumers said they took action to support a company when they believed in its Purpose. Actions included sharing their positive opinions with others (“Spreading the Word”), encouraging others to support or buy from the brand (“Brand Evangelization”), and starting to buy from the brand (“Business Impact”).


And across all generations, 9-in-10 consumers (90%) agreed that “if a brand or company truly lives by a clear and strong brand Purpose,” they would be more likely to support them, even in the event the company or brand had a “misstep “or received “public criticism, “showing the significance of a well-understood Purpose to a company or brand’s reputation.” (2020 Zeno Strength of Purpose Study)


Our purpose at PotentialSquared is to create leaders future generations will be proud of and at the end of last year, we challenged ourselves to make a step-change in bringing our purpose to life through a unique program. We asked ourselves the question: How might we create a program that equips today’s leaders to build and inspire the teams of tomorrow while delivering a positive impact on society? And from this The500 was born.


The500 is a 9-month, cross-sector, socially-focused leadership development program that builds the leadership capability of senior business leaders while making a positive impact on society.


The program focuses on building habits, practices, and behaviors to create leaders who are more inclusive, more impactful, and more connected to society, equipping the participants to bring people together in the increasingly unpredictable times we are living through.


Developing leaders who are skilled at connecting with all talent within the organization and who are proactive champions of those who may not look, act, think or behave like them is increasingly important for business success and is a core component of The500.


Another key element of the program is taking leaders beyond the familiarity of the business environment, stretching them to operate in unfamiliar contexts, broadening their horizons, and embedding their newly honed skills and behaviors.


Participants will take part in mentoring partnerships, mentoring, and coaching individuals from underrepresented groups who face barriers in accessing professional careers. They will also hone their newly developed skills while working on live projects for not-for-profit organizations.


Participants work in cohorts of 24 guided through the program by a cohort coach across three key areas: The Inclusive Leader, The Impactful Leader, The Agile Leader. In each section participants will build capability and knowledge through online content, expert speakers, coached discussion groups, and then go on to develop habits through purposeful practice in real-world situations.


Wondering what’s the ROI on this type of program? How can we benchmark? Here are some of the statistics to support this approach.


Delivering positive change requires action from the many, not just the few, so our name is a nod to the scale of our ambitions. Ultimately, we want to have 500 leaders going through the experience at a time with these 500 leaders positively impacting the lives of 500+ people from underrepresented groups.


The first program will run in the UK in September 2022 and will be run virtually.

If you are interested in finding out more about The500, please contact