Like Jeremy and Payal I was struck by the idea of emergent leaders; people who don’t have formal leadership roles but still step up. The more of these you have in a team the more inspiring it is. Without these people, you end up in the type of team where you have to push things every step of the way. During the leadership training we also learnt about transformational leadership skills that many emergent leaders employ.
The 5 key tenets of transformational leadership:
- Model the way: this means that, as a leader, you must be a good team member or you can’t expect others to be.
- Inspire a shared vision: this means that you should develop a purpose and project as a team rather than bringing an idea that you want a team to implement. This is something I have done poorly in the past. I often want to stick to a plan that I have come up with rather than changing it to fit in with what the whole team wants.
- Challenge the process: look for ways to innovate the way things are done.
- Enable others: listen to other people and support their decisions. This is another thing I struggle with. I tend to be a bit controlling and if someone hasn’t finished something quickly enough I will do it instead. Now I know that this takes team member’s responsibility away and causes them to stop making an effort.
- Encourage the heart: this has a bit of a weird name but it basically means that you should tell people when you think they’ve done a good job. This sounds corny but can really make a difference to how motivated your team is.
Self Leadership and Values
Throughout this year, I’ve also had an opportunity to develop my self leadership. My husband is a psychologist and he’s taught me about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and (at least to a degree) this is how I try to run my life. Basically, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy tells you that you should accept the way you are feeling and then do what is most consistent with your values. Sometimes this is easy (like when you’re feeling motivated and the thing that’s most consistent with your values is to make the plots for your latest article), and sometimes it’s hard (when you are terrified of public speaking but your values say that you should give a talk at a conference). The CEED leadership course helped me nail down a couple of values that I had been avoiding because they’re just a bit too scary. The thing I have been really avoiding the most is networking. Let’s face it, most people fear networking but it’s part of our jobs as researchers and my values say that I must do it. Confronting this means that I get to do fantastic things like meeting visiting academics and going to visit some of the most prestigious labs in the US. Am I terrified? Yes. Am I doing it anyway? Hell yeah!
I think these three lessons will serve me well in my academic, family and friendship teams. I wish you great teammates, skills to help them excel, and the commitment to follow your values, however difficult it might be.