My name is Carolyn Sargentson.
I facilitate and empower individuals and teams to realize their vision and
step into leadership. I do this mainly in my areas of passion and expertise - academic, museum, arts and heritage organisations. I also work more broadly with individuals and groups in other sectors, including coaches, to help them tune into themselves so that they can become better, happier and more human in their lives and work.
I offer my clients inspiration, encouragement and a lightness of being. And I invite you to see whether working with me would the right fit for you in this moment.
"Carolyn is a person who opens up horizons of every kind"
"She inspires me to be bold, to shake things off, and to care about what really matters – life!"
"Carolyn’s input has made the new course go off like a rocket"
I've worked in a series of stellar institutions and with some brilliant people over the years in leadership, mentoring and consultancy roles that have frequently involved working across organisational and sector boundaries. What underpins my work with organisations is an inquiry into how we understand each other at systemic and personal levels, how we move forward together with a shared and sustainable vision and how we enter into creative relationship. One of my beliefs is that we do not often enough invest deeply in developing real understanding and empathy for each other across personal, institutional and sector boundaries; another is that we often work 'at the surface' rather than at a systemic level when trying to solve personal, professional and organizational problems.
I am here to help with these processes.
Personal feedback and formal analysis suggest that I'm seen as an inspirer, guide and leader, an engaging, lively and ethical mentor and coach, and a calming, curious and encouraging teacher on the yoga mat (I'm a long-time hatha yoga teacher and mindfulness practitioner). I've also been described as a disrupter, a maverick and a system-breaker. My least favourite expression is 'that won't work, we've never done it that way before'. I tend to work with a direct and intuitive approach, a lightness of touch and a sense of humour. I find that a sure faith in my client's ability to find the answers for themselves when properly supported goes a long way to creating significant shifts on a
personal, group and organisational level.
I bring an embodied approach to working with my clients. That means that I work with mind, body, presence and breath - both mine and yours - to create multi-level insights. One of my theories about 'embedding' change is that we can usefully start by 'embodying' a new practice as the first and crucial step. To that end we will bring many forms of intelligence into the consulting, coaching and mentoring process. Sessions may take the form of a walk in nature; expect to breathe and get into your body's (somatic) intelligence, and yes, we might sometimes meditate together to calm our minds and intellects. The work we do together will bring forward our most skilful selves, in both group and individual contexts, in service of your vision.
Perhaps you are navigating a career transition, a situation in which you feel you have hit a dead end and are stuck; or you sense that skills and languages that got you to where you are today just don’t feel enough as you step into what lies ahead. Perhaps you are entering a leadership role and feel ill-equipped; you may be experiencing imposter syndrome; or are you unhappy with your experience of yourself at work without quite seeing how to address that?
Whatever the level of your leadership experience, dive deep with me into your deepest yearning for your work, what you are ready to put aside because it doesn't serve you or your colleagues any longer, and how you show up to yourself and others in this uncertain world we all inhabit. How do you cope with complexity, change, conflict, compassion or collapse? How do your leadership posture, breath, identity and practice inter-relate? I can help you find your sweet spot so you can meet your colleagues where they are, acting with integrity on behalf of your organization and its stakeholders.
This work is all about finding your innate courage, skilfulness, authenticity and humanity in any scenario. I will help you know yourself better and experience how - whatever state you are in - you can shift into a more intelligent and embodied state from which you can work at your optimal level in any moment.
Are you part of a team that doesn't work productively, effectively, or happily? Does it feel more like a gaggle of individuals who are only together because lines on an organizational chart connect them? Or maybe your team feels unsafe and unable to process dissonance; it might be immature in its behaviour or professionalism; possibly it feels like a surrogate family to you or its members. Then we should talk!
I love working with teams, and will bring curiosity, fierce tenderness and a light, restorative touch to working with the group nervous system, its stories and its embodied patterns. I will work at a deep systemic level when that is called for, for example when teams are 'stuck', exhausted, or have had a tough pandemic and then been catapulted into change and challenge. Poor or fast-changing leadership can also leave its imprint on organizations and, like many of my clients, you may find yourself inheriting a team that is under-performing and under-resourced. Sometimes institutional grief or trauma are calling to be seen and named, and there may be an invitation into organizational healing. All this I can support with care, strength, skill and sensitivity.
In coming alongside you to work with your team over a period of months I will invite a settling and re-energising of the system. I'll attend to re-atunements to the team's mindset, roles, values, aspirations, and accountability, and help it build trust and safety so members can work at their highest level. That way the whole organization and its stakeholders can access the wisdom of the group. It's already there; you may just need a bit of support to find it.
my commitment to my clients
As your coach I will commit to listening deeply, to bringing clarity to where you are right now, co-creating actions that empower you to move forward, and helping you access and express your most skilful, creative, and powerful self. I will challenge your narratives in relation to yourself, others and your workplace, and I'll encourage you to explore new perspectives. I will work with you in deep accompaniment, in complete confidence, and without judgment
Please get in touch to set up a no-fee, no-obligation clarity session - I'd love to help.
mentoring the mentors: enhancing your in-house leadership work
• explore mentoring as part of your organizational development work
• encourage mentors to contribute to organizational leadership beyond their 1:1 spaces
• build a group process for your mentors to support each other and create value
• offer a safe space to reflect on, share, and fine-tune practice
• support mentors with tools for self- and co-regulation
• build inclusivity resilience and sustainability into your mentoring programmes
This programme is for you if you are responsible for institutional mentoring teams and see a need to build in real support for the mentors themselves. I offer this through group workshops and 1:1 coaching, helping mentors develop inter-personal and professional skills. I'll provide a safe space for explorations of creative and embodied approaches to practice as well as space for problem-solving, and I'll deliver tools for resilience and sustainability. I can help you address bias in mentoring so that your programme is a properly inclusive process.
Dr Flora Dennis, University of Sussex
At an AHRC/Clore leadership course, I was asked to identify someone whose leadership was inspirational to me. I described Carolyn. Her rare combination of vigorous creative energy, incisive clarity of thought and empathetic warmth make her a joy to work with and a truly inspiring role model. Her collaborative approach and perceptive pragmatism bring new perspectives on work and on life, and she invites a re-connection with the fun and creativity that can become elusive in the workplace. Carolyn unlocked the positive force of questioning and dissent, especially through humour, and showed me how to articulate the unspoken. She inspires me to be bold, to shake things off, and to care about what really matters – life!
Dr. Glenn Adamson, Senior Fellow, Yale University
I was fortunate indeed to have Carolyn as my mentor for four years, when we both worked in the Research Department at the Victoria and Albert Museum. She is a person who opens up horizons of every kind. In addition to her intellectual gifts and her extraordinary fluency with the British museum and heritage sector - she can intuit the opportunities that lie within complex funding structures better than anyone I know - Carolyn is remarkably intuitive and generous, able to see the strengths in any person or situation and bring them to the fore. Just watching her operate was a masterclass in leadership strategy. Most importantly, I saw how she worked to make the organization a little smarter, a little more humane, every single day.
Dr. Lucy Worsley, Chief Curator, Historic Royal Palaces
Historic Royal Palaces engaged Carolyn to help us set up a new collaborative Masters in Heritage Management. She was a vital and inspiring translator and facilitator between two very different organisations: Historic Royal Palaces, a heritage charity, and Queen Mary University of London. She helped us to understand each other’s strategic frameworks, financial expectations and operational cultures. She was a wonderful 1 to 1 coach for our staff member charged with delivering the new MA and with making it distinctive, and she minimised the financial risk of it all for our organisation. Carolyn’s input has made the new course go off like a rocket: it’s well-subscribed, it’s getting great feedback and we anticipate that it will be financially sustainable for the long term.
Let's schedule a clarity conversation to talk through what you are working on right now, and explore whether we might co-create just what you need to take the next step.
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