The Mary Seacole Programme is a six month leadership development programme which was designed by the NHS Leadership Academy in partnership with global experts, the Hay Group, to develop knowledge and skills in leadership and management.


The concept of learning how to be a leader when you’re in the thick of your day to day responsibilities can seem rather abstract, but The Mary Seacole programme is grounded in reality and results in real workplace application.


It aims to provide the balance between learning the theory and putting it into practice. Designed for those looking to move into their first formal leadership role, or those new to first time leadership, it empowers people to turn their success into consistent team success and to champion compassionate patient care.




Watch the animated video on The Mary Seacole programme:



Gill Rooke photo
Gill Rooke, senior operations manager

“Within any organisation – not just the NHS – the first level leadership role is probably one of the most important.


The experience people have of those delivering the service they’re accessing is crucial to how the NHS is perceived, by our patients, their families and wider communities.


This is the role where there’s often engagement with the widest number of people – either colleagues or patients – so the ability to communicate effectively with a wide range of individuals is essential.


Regardless of role or organisational position, people do carry influence beyond their team and impact on the delivery of services. If you add to that a recognition of one’s strengths and weaknesses and what it’s like to ‘be on the receiving end of them’, then that impact will be much greater.


For those in, or going into, their first leadership role, the ability to engage, influence and deliver services of the highest quality with the resource they have is essential. It’s for that very reason that bringing diversity of thought, skill, innovation and knowledge of practice into the way we do things can quite literally have life changing consequences.”


Gill Rooke
Senior operations manager,
NHS Leadership Academy


  • Practical management skills training to empower participants in their leadership capability


  • A mix of face-to-face and online elements which provide even more opportunity for participants to connect with facilitators and others on the programme


  • The national programme costs £995 per participant


For the individual:


  • Encouragement to look within themselves for the right leadership style, rather than comparing them to others


  • Increased awareness of themselves and their abilities, enabling them to more clearly identify:


– Which styles fit their strengths

– Their emotional intelligence and how best to use it

– How their behaviours might impact on others


  • The authority, capacity and motivation to implement change


  • The tools to transform emotion into an asset


  • Greater self-awareness and emotional intelligence, enabling them to work with others more effectively


For the organisation:


  • Better succession planning, due to having an increased number of capable leaders in the pipeline


  • A wider pool of professional skills to draw on within the organisation


  • Structured, evidence-based perspectives on decision-making which have a positive impact


  • People with greater positive impact on organisational culture


  • Leaders who have powerful strategies to achieve change


  • A healthier degree of challenge throughout the organisation rather than just at a senior level

What participants say

The evaluations from participants, and their stories after returning to organisations upon completing the programme, demonstrate a real impact.


The Mary Seacole programme increased my confidence, self-awareness and academic skills. As a dentist with other legal and dental public health qualifications, I lacked leadership training.


The programme emphasised that as leaders, we need to provide integrated co-ordinated care with other teams and organisations. Community dentists often work outside the surgery in the community, treating patients in schools, care homes and hospitals. I learnt that when working with varied teams, good leaders consider how their decisions have an impact on patient care.


I was taught how to deal with organisational change and to encourage colleagues to do the same. I look at leadership from a wider perspective now as it is all about the patients.


Without them, we’re not needed.


Dr Denise Williams
Community dentist, Barts Health NHS Trust


The programme offers a wider repertoire of leadership strategies. It provided me with a template and coaching to approach different situations. As a result of what I learnt, we redesigned the treatment process, delivering a much more co-ordinated service for patients, reducing delay and confusion.


Gerry Trillana
Senior clinical research nurse, NIHR Clinical Research Facility for Experimental Medicine at Guy’s Hospital, London


“I’d done lots of training of training before but the difference with Mary Seacole is that it allows you to go back to into work the very next day and observe how things can change. It translates so well into the day job. I also found the cross-system learning element of it very valuable – you can mix with other people outside your own environment.”


Stephen Freer, Clinical and operational service lead for the Somerset Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAP) team


“The Mary Seacole programme definitely helped my promotion; my manager and Head of Department suggested it to help me develop into my new position.”


Fiammetta Fedele,Deputy head, Medical Physics Department at Guy’s and St Thomas NHS Trust/Lead scientific advisor on ultrasound equipment


“You can be very entrenched in your silo bubble but The Mary Seacole programme makes you feel part of a whole NHS world.”


Caroline Hornby, Team manager, Children and Families Team, CSH Surrey

Who is the Mary Seacole programme for?