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Developing leaders at all levels, in all roles.

Bringing the ethos into the heart of leadership development to provide a wide range of opportunities for leaders at all levels in the organisation and catering for a variety of appetites and experience.



We are enabling leadership in practice and from practice, and creating space – for exploration, conversation, connection, difference and experimentation. Developing leadership at all levels, across all areas, of Health and Care means that people are at different starting-points and stages of readiness for development. In our framework we recognise that ‘one size does not fit all’ by working to ensure access to a blend of opportunities for leadership development – from informal to more formal, and including individual and collective approaches.

The year’s highlights in Leadership Development

Extending our leadership offers

This year we have been proud to extend our range of leadership development offers. Through continued collaboration we are successfully offering a wider choice of offerings for leaders at different levels and from professional backgrounds, access to longer term programmes and one-off workshops and have extended our modes of delivery to include face to face, recorded webinar and live online workshops. A series of workshops with clinical and non-clinical Health Care Support Workers was a definite highlight.

See below for more detail

Further development of leadership 3 

The continued development and evolution of leadership 3 through two further cohorts of aspiring executive leaders has felt very positive. The name leadership 3 (leadership cubed) reflects our belief that leadership happens in the three inter-connected areas of self, team and system.

In these times of unprecedented challenge, it has been inspiring to see leaders across all three cohorts thrive, making a wider contribution across the system, and sharing their learning and experiences with each other and others. The sense of community through mutual learning and support across the cohorts is a great example of collaborative working and collective leadership in practice.

See below for more detail

Digital coaching pilot

Successfully extending the offer of coaching to 50 leaders from a wide range of levels was a highpoint . Often an intervention reserved for senior organisational leaders, collaborating with a new partner,  Know You More, we piloted  a series of online coaching sessions to leaders of all levels including medical, dental and GP’s. It allowed us to acclimatise ourselves and our leadership community to an online delivery platform, which was the shape of things to come!

See below for more detail

Case study

“Being physically active outdoors and choosing to walk or cycle is one of the best ways to prevent or delay health problems in later life. To encourage greater participation we need to work collaboratively across old sector boundaries.”

Our plan for the last year

  • We will continue to contribute to the curation and navigation of Leadership Development offers across Health & Care – providing clear information and signposting for individuals about the purpose and relevance of particular offerings at particular stages of their development. 
  • We will continue to make links between the development support available at local, regional and national levels – brokering specific connections and collaborations where it makes sense to do so (e.g. joint development events).
  • We will continue to encourage the sharing of leadership stories in support of learning and connecting across the system – focusing on the continued development of a digital presence. 
  • We will increase opportunities for people in the Project Lift community to access formal leadership programmes. We will continue to broaden the scope of ‘formal learning’ as well as the ways individuals can contribute to it. We will increase access to coaching opportunities for people within the Project Lift community. 
  • We will continue to develop the Project Lift community, encouraging people (including alumni) to get and to stay connected – with others across the community and with the Project Lift team.

What have we achieved - the 2020 reality.

  • We have successfully extended the range of Leadership Development Offers open to our Project Lift Community Members from Health and Social Care. This includes making Project Lift places available on established Leadership Development offers, like Leading for the Future (targeted at senior leadership roles in Health and Social Care and Partners.) In 2019 we offered c. one third of places on this programme to Project Lift Community members. We also offered 12 Project Lift places on New Horizons, a programme for Emerging Leaders and Managers. We were also delighted to fund 13 places for participants in Health and Social Care on an Emerging Leaders Programme with Common Purpose as well as funding 7 places on their Senior Leaders Programme.
  • Over the year, we have worked with a wide variety of thought leaders in the leadership development space, curating one off, shorter, open and accessible leadership development offers, including:
  • We are proud to have made coaching support for leaders at all different levels of our Health and Care System accessible via our Digital Coaching Pilot with Know You More and latterly as part of the Coaching for Wellbeing offer in response to COVID-19.
  • Our Principal Leads have been delighted to continue to work closely with our OD colleagues in the Regions to grow awareness and understanding of the wider leadership offerings available. Over the year we have been pleased to partner in events in all Regions and for some professional groups: AHP’s, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Health Care Support Workers to name but a few.
  • Leadership cubed continues to evolve and is now an established and recognised leadership development offering in the system. 2019/20 saw cohort 1 completed and a further 40 participants take part across cohorts 2 and 3. Following a pause of formal programme sessions in March 2020 due to COVID, both cohorts will complete their programme from Autumn 2020 using an online platform. Onboarding for cohort 4 will commence late in late 2020.
  • Finally, this year we have curated and promoted offers from a range of other leadership development suppliers, to expand our offers to both the wider leadership population and specific target groups and responding to the need for flexible accessible learning resources. These include:

What have we found difficult this year and how might we do things differently?

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic presented us with a significant challenge and opportunity for our leadership development work, with programmes and activities pausing as staff prioritised front line services. Key impacts included:

The unavoidable postponement of  leadership3 cohorts formal learning events was a significant change.

      • For cohort 2 this meant postponing their final shared learning event and celebration from May 2020,
      • For cohort 3, pausing their formal learning events from March 2020.
      • In the spirit of relational leadership and learning from practice in practice, both cohorts have stayed connected using What’s App groups and MS Teams. We have made creative use of vlogs and virtual conversations to share learning, thinking, practice and to offer and receive support as work continued during COVID-19.  This has enabled the cohorts to contribute to the system-wide reflections and learning from the COVID-19 experiences. In short, this has become the live collaborative work for both cohorts 2 and 3. There has also been a significant level of 1:1 coaching and support between the facilitators and members of both cohorts throughout this period.
    • Leading for the Future (current cohort) was also postponed and the recruitment process for the next cohort has been postponed until 2021.
  • In 2019/20 ground work had been undertaken to curate additional leadership development packages for senior leaders who were assessed as ‘between offers’ so, e.g. beyond the Leading for the Future offer and not quite ready for leadership 3 The pandemic resulted in some of these programmes being repurposed to online offers, e.g. the Emerging and Senior Leadership programmes with Common Purpose and delaying the recruitment and onboarding to the HR Senior Leadership Programme, to the summer, with commencement of this on an online platform in Autumn 2020.
  • We continue to face the challenge of raising awareness and attracting more participants from Social Care and other partners to our Project Lift Community and development programmes. Whilst the pausing of some of our formal engagement activities due to COVID-19, made this more difficult, we have made some strides in this regard in the last year. This has been assisted by our increased focused engagement activity generally and through our Project Lift Community events and connections via the Wellbeing Hub. Yet, there is  still more work to be done. We have found that the Coaching for Wellbeing offer following COVID-19 has introduced colleagues to Project Lift from a broader range of roles and parts of the wider system beyond Health.  Continued focused engagement activity in this arena is required, perhaps using some existing project lift community members from the Social Care as advocates.
  • The challenges of the last year have accelerated the team’s appetite and capability to work virtually and reshape our development offerings for the online environment. This has served to enhance our collective skills and aptitude for working virtually going forward which will enable us to extend our reach to potential participants in different roles and in all parts of the country.

2020 and beyond.

The year ahead requires continued rescheduling and recovery of development activities configuring these in a way that supports what’s needed in the system and draws upon whole system learning.  Continuing to expand our range of offers, providing offers open to all and more tailored offers to specific target populations and groups identified through the project lift Talent Management process. Priority activities include:

  • Enabling greater reach and participation on leadership development offers from colleagues in Social Care
  • Curating and commissioning leadership development offers for the existing Director population
  • Capturing learning and insights from leaders post COVID-19 and sharing and using this widely;
  • Completing cohorts 2 and 3 of leadership3  and onboarding and commencement of cohort 4 – adapting approach and content to the online environment
  • Commissioning external evaluation of project lift including key development offerings like leadership cubed
  • Delivery and evaluation of new development programmes including HR Senior Leadership Programme, digital coaching pilot, Virtual Ashridge, Common Purpose Programmes
  • Exploring the current gap in range of development offers focused on teams and test possible interventions – e.g. the practice of teaming. leadership³ cohorts, for example, have described how their learning experiences have developed how they think about the concept of team, how they lead / work within their own teams. And that there is a lot more to be done to develop how people work within teams, collaboratively across teams, and how they “team” across the system.
  • Experimentation with other leadership development offers -shadowing, project work, offering support re reflective practice to support better leadership learning and capture from live work.
Thought Leadership

“It really is all about relationships: a relational approach to developing leadership”

When we set out in 2018 to develop a 'programme', we did not describe it as relational leadership development at the time. Over the past two years, though, we have come to realise more and more that it is the relationships between people and the connections within our communities which really matters.

Brigid Russell, Leadership Development Collaborative Partner, 2020

A little more on extending our leadership offers

We continue to collaborate with some great partners in the leadership development field and introduced some very extensible offers e.g.  offering 200  places to team leaders across Health and Social Care to the Virtual Ashridge digital education forum and  curated opportunities focused on professions and roles.  This includes our new HR Senior Leadership Programme being developed in collaboration with University of Edinburgh Business School.

We particularly enjoyed designing and delivering a dedicated workshop for 320 clinical and non-clinical Health Care Support Workers,  “Seeing myself as a Leader, we are all in this together” at the of NES HCSW Regional Learning Events in 2019/20. Encouraging this critical part of our workforce to recognise and make their important leadership contribution was fantastic.

“A few more leaders are having lightbulb moments”


“Seeing myself as a leader, great discussions!”


Loads of great resources on this site – well worth applying

@MAVScotlandVirtual Ashridge

Very Grateful to @ProjectLiftScot for funding my place on the @CommonPurposeUK #emergingleaders programme. Getting so much out of it already

Common Purpose

Best email of the week finding out I’ve been successful thank you for the opportunity

@sarajhoran_jVirtual Ashridge

Thanks @ProjectLifScot for the heads up about these funded places. Looking forward to getting started with #Change Management

@Cara_L_MurrayUniversity of Glasgow MicroCredentials

Great resource and opportunity to access this dynamic platform for self development

@gillian_poskittVirtual Ashridge

I think especially though to do with communication and dialogue as already utilising this within my own leadership has proven to be very helpful. I think the learning surrounding creativity and innovation will also be useful. The module enabled me to make and keep thorough notes which I know I will refer back to throughout my career.

AnonNew Horizons

Thanks for inspiring webinar on Leadership Reflection today – ordered new stationery already

@drClaireFisher1Leadership Links webinar

Actively make a point of not jumping in or giving my opinion. This is something I will have to be very conscious of doing in the future and really listen until the person speaking has finished putting their point across to the level they wanted to

AnonPeer Thinking Sets

I think for me my main focus is leading with compassion, empathy and looking at resilience. My plan is to lead by example and hopefully see others adopt a similar approach, this will hopefully help us create a positive environment to work in.

AnonNew Horizons

Hey @davidliftscot @projectliftcot your webinar was totally awesome today, really gave me a different perspective! Love the piece about not focusing on gals, focus on your system. Gutted I had to leave before the end, no pressure for your next debut!

@amanda_langsleyLeadership Links Webinar

@jennijones2468 and @jo_rafferty helping us see that leadership is about our values and qualities not about position /role

@NES_hcswSeeing myself as a leader

Feeling accomplished @Ashridge_Biz @ProjectLiftScot “Leading in Uncertainty” Quite a few ‘ah ha’ moments for sure. Especially the final section on intuitive leadership and allowing ego skills in the help structure the steps. Thanks for this learning opportunity

@gillian_poskittVirtual Ashridge

A little more on the further development of leadership3

leadership3 continues to evolve with the active input and live learning of each cohort. It is now an established and recognised leadership development offer in the system.  While the formal elements take place over a 12-month period, each cohort remains actively connected with each other and with the wider project lift community.

For example, members of cohort one have contributed to the learning events of cohorts two and three. Cohort one reached their final shared learning event in September 2019.  A further 30 participants are involved in cohorts two and three. Following a pause of formal programme sessions in March 2020 due to COVID, both cohorts will complete their programme elements in Autumn/Winter 2020 using an online platform. Both cohorts 2 and 3 have remained actively connected via virtual means throughout the COVID lockdown period, and engaged in informal support and mutual learning with and for each other. Onboarding for cohort 4 will commence in late 2020.

leadership cubed has reignited a desire to connect the system through our relationships at work. I have found myself spending more time on finding a common purpose when trying to work collaboratively - and its working!

Grecy Bell, Cohort 2, leadership cubedCommon Purpose is key...

Leadership3 was designed during 2018 by Brigid Russell and Joanne Kerr (the Project Lift collaborative partners for leadership development). It has always been the intention that the design and feel of the programme would develop iteratively, with each of the cohorts contributing actively to its ongoing development alongside the facilitators. The delivery of cohorts 1, 2, and 3 has been a collaborative team effort between Brigid Russell, Joanne Kerr, and members of the Project Lift principal lead team.

leadership3 is about the collective development of leadership across the system, and not just the development of individual leaders. In keeping with the ethos of a relational approach to leadership development, all those who have been involved in leadership3 are openly encouraged to stay connected with each other and with the wider Project Lift community.

Read more about the learning experiences from leaders from cohorts 1,2, and 3 here

A little more on our digital coaching pilot

In 2019/20 we were delighted to work with a new partner, Know You More, a digital coaching provider, to invite Project Lift Community members who had completed the SAQ to apply to take advantage of a ‘test’ offer of a series of Digital Coaching sessions. A successful example of extending offers to leaders at all levels – 50 individuals, representing almost all Boards, grades (Bands 4-8d) medical, dental and GP, embarked on their learning journey in 2020.

Our relationship with Know You More continues and since the onset of COVID, Know You More have offered us 100 pro-bono coaching hours to support staff in these difficult times. This exemplifies the long term, mutually beneficial relationships we aim to develop with our partners and collaborators. Know You More is a Social Enterprise and offers equivalent pro-bono coaching hours to charity for paid coaching hours and we are pleased to have chosen Young Scot to be the recipient.

“Coaching, I was always sceptical having never experienced it. I’ve just completed my 6 sessions of digital coaching via @ProjectLiftScot and have to confess I was wrong! I loved it, it really challenged me and was hard work but so worth it, thank you for the opportunity”


“I’m also receiving coaching through Project Lift and KYM and to has been and continued to be phenomenal… such a privilege”


“I am not particularly prone to hyperbole but the coaching I’ve had through @knowyoumoreco via ‘ProjectLiftScot has been one of the most useful things I’ve done in my career to date”

The data

12 Project Lift Places on New Horizons for emerging leaders

15 Project Lift places on Common Purpose’s Emerging Leaders Programme

7 Project Lift Places on Common Purpose’s Senior Leaders Programme

3 Leadership Cubed Cohorts for aspiring directors, 50 delegates in total

21 places offered on our new HR Senior Leadership Programme

50 Digital Coaching pilot places open to the community

200 Virtual Ashridge online subscriptions**

320 Health Care Support Workers in ‘Seeing myself as a leader’ workshops

*All free at the point of use and with participants from Orkney to the Borders, from Health, Social Care and third sector organisations and including dentists, nurses, junior doctors, GPs, AHPs, and those with teams of various sizes and roles.
**1 year full access, free at the point of use to all participants and with participants across career stages, boards and the wider system.

Links to the programmes mentioned can be found in the What we did Section above