Leadership is one of those Holy Grail skills that all researchers aspire to develop but often struggle to demonstrate and give evidence of leadership experience on job applications or in interviews. There are lots of different ways to lead and just because you line manage someone, doesn’t mean you are acting as a leader. Other forms of leadership include; leading up (i.e. leading your supervisor, which in research is a very regular occurrence as you are the person who knows your research area as well as, if not better than your PI), self-leadership (which is self-explanatory and something researchers do on a daily basis) and lateral leadership which I want to cover below. Read the rest of this entry »
On Thursday 3rd November we successfully ran our first full-day event of workshops specifically designed for postgraduate research students to recognise and refine their knowledge of leadership skills. Under the title “Leadership Development Workshops”, sponsored by Science Think Ahead, PGR students across all faculties attended four sessions from 9:30am – 4pm in the Arts Tower computer room, with speakers from a wide range of disciplines and services within the University.
The first session of the day was given by Phil Wallace from the University’s Leadership Development team. He discussed with the participants what it means to be a successful leader in today’s world, the role of the leader within the community, and the concept of living leadership. Researchers were also given the chance to reflect on that using their own experiences and achievements. Read the rest of this entry »
I was inspired during a Twitter conversation a couple of weeks ago to consider concepts and perceptions of professionalism. The opinions offered online and the research literature on professionalism, professional trust, and professional development, are vast and sprawling, and each profession has its own definitions and competencies that make up what it means to be professional. You can imagine that professionalism in Paediatric Physiotherapists is defined in a different way to professionalism in Chartered Accountants or professionalism in Theatre Stage Managers. I’ve not done a comparative analysis of all this, because lists of similar and different ‘in theory’ skills and competencies aren’t too useful in shaping how we help others develop professionalism. I’m more interested in examples of how this plays out in practice. Read the rest of this entry »
Our early career Research Staff Mentoring programme has been running for 5 years now. Having trained about 150 academic volunteers in mentoring techniques and ethical practice, and having seen more than 500 pairs come through the scheme, I’ve learned a lot about the power of dialogue in supporting planning for research careers. Taking a research-led approach has helped craft a programme of value to the primary learners, the early career researcher mentees. But there’s wider listening to be done to fully embed a mentoring culture across the university – a successful mentoring programme has to align with existing structures and cultures, not circumnavigate them or try to replace them.
Are you thinking of applying for a research fellowship award?
I’m currently running a research project called Fellowship Ahoy! that asks researchers who score prestigious research fellowships just how heck they did it. I have been zipping around the country (as you may have seen on the project Twitter account @fellowshipahoy), visiting other universities and collecting the intricate and interesting background stories that lead up to being awarded that rare and elusive fellowship award. I’ve now talked to twenty-five unique and very different fellows and really enjoyed it.
I am doing this project for a couple of reasons:
The first is intellectual curiosity – we just don’t know much about the professional lives, strives, small niggles and big decisions of this group of people, and the LFHE wanted to give me some money to do it.
Guest post from Caitlin Brumby, a PhD researcher in the Dept. of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology.
I joined Kay’s PhD leadership coaching course more because it sounded interesting rather than anything else. In hindsight, this may be one of the better places to start from, it gave me pause to think about almost everything discussed, and one train of thought has stuck with me more than the others. Something I thought about more and more throughout the sessions was giving real thought to one nagging worry:
‘Perhaps I’m not the right person for academia in the long term, would I eventually fit in amongst these well respected academics? Me? They know everything!’
I’m one of the masses suffering from the imposter syndrome I suppose, a constant feeling of inadequacy, when actually, looking at the facts and feedback, I’m doing pretty well.
I don’t think I’m the perfect PhD student, in fact, I know I’m not. I get incredibly distracted by the big picture, the elegance of experiments, new techniques on different continents and cool 3D microscopy models. Read the rest of this entry »
A session of my Leadership Coaching Groups for PhD students is dedicated to getting people together over coffee to facilitate conversations between successful academic staff and current research students who are aspiring future academic leaders. I know what you’re thinking – why would they aspire to that?
Topics of discussion in higher education that are currently flooding blogs, tweets, and editorial are the impacts of stress from research workload management, isolation, employability anxiety or workplace bullying, on mental health in academia. Now, I think these are truly important discussions, and serve to raise awareness of some really difficult issues and generate an evidence base from which to begin to generate support structures, and a culture change.