Case Study – Sarah Findlay (LIFT)

Posted: Tuesday, 3rd April, 2018

Team leader, IAPT Somerset Talking Therapies Service, Somerset Partnership Foundation Trust, 13 years health sector experience. Sarah was recommended to LIFT by her Service Director, an alumnus of the programme. She hoped to develop a ‘felt sense’ of her ability as a leader through attending the programme.

I have a strong ‘felt sense’ of myself as a leader, the programme has validated my skills – life, clinical and professional and shown me these are valuable and relevant to leadership.

Key Learning from the Programme

Sarah felt the programme was strong on bringing alive the NHS as a system, ‘emphasis on the NHS as a system really comes through, the mix of delegate illustrates this even before we do anything’ and ‘the leadership exchange is key in developing an understanding of this and illustrating it.’ She commented that she ‘realised we are all little systems operating in a big system’ and ‘we are all linked as part of that system.’ The innovation and managing change sessions were really important for Sarah and gave her ‘confidence in undertaking change processes.’ The session on innovator/adapter types was ‘illuminating’ and she felt that she ‘understands herself better and who she is, how she is,’ which helps her be comfortable in managing and leading at work. It also helped reinforce for her that ‘complimentary working is a powerful tool for change.’ Sarah found the sessions on group dynamics, emotional intelligence and storytelling all interesting and enjoyable but commented that she was already very familiar with these aspects in her professional role. Patient involvement session were very interesting for Sarah and helped her reflect that it isn’t perhaps as strong in her service as it could be and to start to think about how, despite limited resources, this can be improved and increased.

Leadership Style and Personal Impact

Sarah felt the programme had encouraged her to reflect and to believe that she ‘can lead with integrity – clients and staff.’ She described the 360 process and feedback as pivotal for her, and that together with the self-care sessions had led her ‘get better at self-care, eating, exercise’ and that this had directly led to her increased resilience at work. She observed that in the past she had been ‘good at attending to care in the team and validating the team but not good at modelling it.’ Sarah had spent time reflecting on her personal style and noted that ‘when she is passionate about something she speaks out and is very articulate. I’ve reflected on what it is like to be on the receiving end of me and I’m more mindful of my passion, how it comes over and I listen more.’ She felt this had an observable impact in the workplace.

Changes in the Workplace

Sarah described feeling the benefit of the programme in her day to day work in terms of her confidence, ‘the coat is a better fit’, ‘my own style is OK, I can do it with confidence.’ She believes her team, and managers are ‘experiencing her as a leader more.’ Sarah enjoyed the outdoor activities and exercises and has used a number of them with her team to develop team work and build skills. She described the learning zones as very powerful, ‘emotive and moving in some cases, we’re all doing jobs, all under pressure and constraints, all human with agendas that get in the way.’ One of these learning zones directly led her to reflect on relationships with her service commissioner and look for ways of improving relationships and better communication including inviting them into ‘routine’ meetings, ‘they came to my duty team meeting – not just the strategic meeting!’

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