Sally Maitlis

Sally Maitlis

Professor of Organisational Behaviour and Leadership

Saïd Business School
University of Oxford
Park End Street


Sally Maitlis is a Professor of Organisational Behaviour and Leadership at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.

Her areas of expertise include sensemaking in organisations, trauma and adversity at work, and processes of personal growth. Before coming to Oxford, Sally was a Professor of Organisational Behavior at the Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. She has an undergraduate degree in Psychology from University College London, a Master’s degree in Counselling Psychology from UBC, and a PhD in Organisational Behavior from the University of Sheffield.


Sally conducts research in a range of public and private sector organisations.

She has a particular interest in the cultural industries, studying symphony orchestras, dancers, and other creative professionals. She specialises in qualitative research, closely observing individual, team and organisational processes as they unfold in real time, and analysing these processes through talk and text.

Key research interests:

  • Sensemaking in organisations
  • Trauma and adversity at work
  • Resilience and growth
  • Compassion in organisations
  • Emotional dynamics of organisational processes

View Sally's research.

Could following your calling lead to burnout?

Park End Street West Wing

Other videos

Find out more about Sally's research in the below videos.

full length seminar on Sally’s recent research on negotiating the challenges of a calling.

Sally’s research on sensemaking and meaningful work is featured in an animation on Building Adaptive Cultures by the Harvard Learning and Innovation Laboratory.

Sally and her research are featured in the documentary, Broken, an exploration of injury and identity in the world of dance.


Sally’s interests are rooted in the prevalent issues and problems of organisational life.

In conducting her research on sensemaking, emotions, adversity, and growth, she works closely with those she studies and provides feedback on her findings that helps individuals, teams and organisations to build capacity. Sally is frequently invited to address practitioner audiences, translating current academic research on topics such as trauma, resilience, and compassion at work. Her work has also been published in executive outlets such as the MIT Sloan Management Review, and the Wharton Leadership Digest.

She has a passion for the Arts, and much of her research has addressed challenges that face arts organisations and those working as musicians, dancers or in other creative professions. She has presented her work to the Association of British Symphony Orchestras and several of their member orchestras, and also at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Dance and Music. Sally is a former board member of the board of the Vancouver Cantata Singers, Canada.

Sally’s teaching, whether with MBAs, EMBAs, or in executive education programmes, is oriented towards practice, working to increase individuals’ awareness of themselves, their interpersonal dynamics at work, and key organisational concepts and frameworks that can increase their workplace effectiveness. She also has extensive experience as a consultant and coach, previously as a consultant with the firm of Occupational Psychologists, SHL, and over the last decade as an executive coach in Vancouver, Canada. Sally’s background in counselling has also allowed her to work in this capacity with individuals who have experienced trauma at work, and those undergoing significant career and life transitions. She is registered as a Clinical Counsellor in Canada, and is a Chartered Occupational Psychologist with the British Psychological Society.


Sally has taught MBA students and executives for over 15 years, primarily in the areas of Organisational Behaviour and Leadership.

Using a variety of self-reflection activities, small group discussions, cases, simulation exercises, and analysis of critical incidents in their working and personal lives, she encourages students to question their assumptions about themselves and others, and to practice new ways of thinking and behaving that will strengthen their working relationships and increase their leadership effectiveness.

At Oxford Saïd, she is the Academic Director of the Oxford High Performance Leadership programme, and contributes to a variety of other executive education programmes. She also teaches a popular MBA elective on Managing Professional Relationships. Prior to joining the School, Sally developed and implemented a Leadership Coaching Stream in the MBA programme at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. This enabled students identify and tackle key leadership challenges that they faced within the MBA and outside, working one-on-one with a coach. Their coaching conversations drew on teamwork and peer feedback, allowing students to address leadership development needs in real time, with ongoing support. In addition to introducing coaching to the MBA programme, Sally also provided coaching to many of the students who went through it.

At the PhD level, Sally specialises in qualitative research methods. She has taught qualitative research around the world, giving presentations, workshops and short courses on topics such as interviewing, ethnography, theorising, and writing. Serving as a member of faculty for the Consortium for the Advancement of Research Methods and Analysis (CARMA), Sally teaches a short course on Interviewing for Qualitative Research in the US and Australia. She has also taught doctoral courses in Argentina and Switzerland, as well as several shorter qualitative research workshops in the UK, Canada, and the US.