To all scientists: Lead like you research! With intent and curiosity.
They often say “the soft stuff is the hard stuff” and it is true.
But that doesn’t mean that there can’t be a method to make it easier and it doesn’t mean that it’s less fun. So how can you lead like you research?
Let’s start with the first bit. Accumulating knowledge about the topic you want to investigate. How do you do that as a scientist? Let’s say you studied in your field, then you read plenty of books and articles published in peer-reviewed journals. And of course you can go and chat with colleagues, experts or other collaborators for input.
This gives you a great foundation but doesn’t answer your particular research question. Or solve the problem in your specific context.
You need an experiment to see what holds true in your specific case. You gather as many facts as you can, form a hypotheses and conduct the experiment. You’ll be careful to observe and not change too many variables at a time. Gather practical knowledge in increments – you can’t google experience.
After the experiment, you evaluate and review the results. What worked? What didn’t? Why might that be so? What have you learned? What are you going to try next to gather more knowledge and insights and most of all get to a place where it works? You keep trying until you figure it out.
One major thing you should keep in mind though: You are part of the system.
We know from physics that the observer changes what is observed by watching. Now when you are leading people, you are even more involved. You interact with and influence them – even your non-interaction means something! So make sure that in your evaluation you reflect on your part as well. You are a variable in this experiment and a key factor contributing to how things are.
What do you think about this? Let me know, I’m curious if this perspective makes it easier and a little more fun for you to lead others!