Leadership for Scientists

Each of us has leadership traits waiting to be discovered, honed and applied. This course explores various facets of personal and organizational leadership including integrity, authenticity and trust to name a few. This is not an academic course studying leaders. Rather, students will be asked to examine and discover their own leadership style, skills, biases and interests. Each week a different theme will be explored through a variety of lens including videos, instructor interviews, articles, discussions and assignments. Students will be expected to draw on their past and current experience in both discussions and assignments. This course is tuned to many issues that scientists are likely to face in their careers.

This course is offered to graduate level students by the University of Massachusetts Lowell as part of their Professional Science Master’s program. It has been adapted from a similar course offered to Isenberg MBA students.

Module Learning Themes

  1. From individual contributor to leader: Must an individual contributor transition to a manager or leader to be recognized? What are the major differences between an individual contributor, manager and leader? What skills and mind sets are needed for each role? What challenges will scientific professionals encounter as they transition through the roles? What personal assets does the student have that will facilitate and accelerate their transition?
  2. Delegation and Accountability: Why is delegation important? Isn’t it easier to do it yourself? Why do some have a hard time delegating? When to delegate? To whom? What are the principles of delegation? Are there levels of delegation? How do I decide what level to use? What are the delegation pitfalls? How does accountability relate to delegation?
  3. Motivation: People are motivated by different things. For some, motivation is driven by fear or punishment. Others respond to rewards. How do leaders motivate large numbers of people with different preferences?
  4. Building Trust: Leaders need to be trusted. It takes years to build it and only minutes to lose it. How do leaders earn it and re-establish it when it is broken? What are the enemies of trust?
  5. Teamwork and Collaboration: Why is teamwork important for scientists? How is teamwork similar and different in the scientific community? What assets will you bring and challenges will you face as part of a professional scientific team?
  6. Execution and Follow Through: Why is execution so hard? How do the best organizations practice execution? Is or should execution be a specialty or should everyone need to be good at it? Is execution more or less difficult for the scientific community?
  7. Authenticity: What are the characteristics of an authentic leader? Why is it difficult to be authentic? Who are the authentic leaders in your career? Do others experience you as authentic?
  8. Personal Integrity and Ethics: Many view ethics as black and white. Yet, in real life leaders face ethically dilemmas –choices where there is no clear right or wrong. Often the choices have undesired consequences. In many situations leaders will be criticized by followers regardless of their decision. How do leaders navigate these dilemmas and maintain their integrity?
  9. Diversity in the Workplace: What is diversity important in the scientific community? What are the challenges of operating with diversity? How does political correctness get in the way of performance? How do scientists develop their ability to operate on multicultural teams?
  10. Self-Awareness: How do we become more self-aware? Most of us want feedback from our peers and bosses. Why is that we only really hear the negative? How do we distinguish between how we behave and how others experience us? How do we recognize our strengths and limitations? How do we build self-confidence?
  11. Resilience: Everyone experiences failure or adversity at some point in life. Yet, no one likes to fail. In fact, most of us work hard to avoid failure. What allows some to rebound from adversity or failure while others wallow in their misfortune?