Specialising in leadership and management from an evidence-based perspective, SPJ Consulting supports organisations and people to succeed in an increasingly competitive environment.


Sarah has significant teaching experience within the veterinary industry, she became a clinical mentor early in her career and has been committed to supporting others to develop their skills and succeed in both academic and organisational settings ever since. She delivers conference lectures and seminars on her specialist subjects together with interactive workshops and small group sessions.


Bespoke programmes can be developed to meet the specific needs of your organisation including training for senior management teams, clinical and support staff. Sarah also writes academic papers and CPD articles for various publications.


A small selection of workshops is outlined below. Sarah would like to thank the Center for Evidence-Based Management for many of the papers and articles used to write these courses. Please contact Sarah for further details and to discuss your specific requirements.


You don't have to be a charismatic hero to be a great leader


Leadership is beset by popular definitions and stereotypes. Leaders are charismatic, extrovert, passionate, strong and assertive. They know exactly what to do in all situations and relish confrontational situations where they always come out on top. But is this really what most leaders are like and are these people really 'the best'? There’s no doubt that leading people is easier for those who are naturally charismatic, but high levels of charisma often mask a narcissistic personality and these leaders can use their skills to legitimize corrupt and unethical decisions. Furthermore, charisma is generally a poor predictor of successful leadership; most good leaders are far more stable and well-adjusted and appreciate the considerable contribution of followers. Becoming a truly great contemporary leader means leaving leadership stereotypes behind and questioning the way we learn to 'do' leadership.


"Trust me, 15 years of management experience”. Why do we need evidence in management decision-making?


We practice evidence-based medicine when treating our patients but when it comes to making managerial decisions we tend to leave good quality evidence behind. This means that decisions are often based on gut feel, a quick fix or a management fad that promises great things. Of course, quick fixes to difficult problems are very appealing; we want to believe there's an easy answer to what are often complex or intractable problems. The whole point of evidence-based management is to base what we do as leaders on the best available evidence, so we can make better decisions for our businesses and the people within them. We then spend less time managing the fallout associated with poor choices.


70% of organizational change programmes fail… right?


Organizations change continually; processes and protocols are updated, members of the team come and go and we all get on with our roles. However, when we think about affecting change, we immediately worry about the huge challenges we’ll face. After all, 70% of change programmes fail… right? In fact, this is an oft-repeated yet baseless claim that makes leading change sound scary and causes employees to worry about what might happen.


Most approaches to change rely on smart and colourful models that appear to be universally applicable. They tend to consist of a set number of steps, usually between 3 and 10; although even the 10-step model is really the 3-step model in a wordy disguise! Following these models tends to cause problems, since they’re almost exclusively without an evidence base, even though it looks (erroneously) like there’s a rational plan that will produce the desired result.


Performance appraisals: essential HR practice or unnecessary ‘tick box’ exercise?


Most businesses utilise appraisals as part of performance management, but there’s little evidence that they improve performance. We want to believe appraisals are of benefit, but this relies on the assumption that everyone’s performance can and needs to be improved, when most people are probably performing well (or well enough) on a day-to-day basis. Think also of the time and effort involved; I’m sure many of us are familiar with the feeling of dread as we approach performance appraisals, with the eventual relief at having once again completed the mammouth task. Does this sound like a good investment? Or do the costs outweigh the benefits? What would happen if we stopped doing performance appraisals? Would individuals’ behaviour deteriorate? Would productivity drop? Would anyone be upset? Probably not.


The antidote to time management: do less and feel better!


There’s no shortage of people who are happy to tell us how we should manage our time. They profess that if we learn their techniques, we will be ‘in control of our lives’; more efficient, effective and successful managers and leaders. Their techniques often tap into our obsession with busyness and common assumptions equating busyness with importance. They suggest organized people are ‘better’ and more productive. However, this doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to learn from traditional time management techniques. If we approach these strategies more objectively, assess whether or how they might be useful for us and adjust them to suit where necessary, this can help us think differently about time and feel much better about our behaviours and achievements.






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