Leadership is something we learn either through our experience or when given an opportunity for formal training. A few months ago, I was given a fantastic chance when I received an email about ERLDP. First, what does it stand for? Emerging Research leader’s development program or how to become the academic leader of tomorrow.
What I have learned so far is that leadership doesn’t exist in isolation, but through leaders. There are many styles, just look around you. I mean really look! Observe, judge, criticize, and learn from people. Every leader around you can teach you something…even what not to do, which can be just as valuable!
As I said, it all started with that first email. Then the questions followed: should I participate? am I ready? Then I looked at my career, where I was and where I wanted to be. The answer became obvious: I had to try to get into the program. Like all of us in, I wrote my application, doing my best to choose the right words. I guess what came across is my motivation and that I felt I was ready to take off.
Then came the second email saying, ’You’ve been chosen.’ and me jumping around and telling everyone how happy I was to get into the course. I felt that this was an extraordinary opportunity, maybe the start of my professional (?) independence.
At the first workshop, I didn’t really know what to expect. We had been given a book and a tiny notebook with the instruction to write down everything that passed through our minds. So I did. In fact, I started evidencing my journey, the change in myself that is happening. There are periods in life when you grow up so much more in just a few months compared to sometimes two years. This was one of them.
I’m not sure I’ll be able to draw an exhaustive list of what this workshop did for me; it’s too long and each time I think about it I find even more. So I’ll stick to the essentials that apply to me, as parf of the magic of this workshop is that it gives us what we need without necessarily knowing we need it beforehand. Basically, we are different in personality, background, and area of research – but it doesn’t matter. We applied to this program because we are at a decisive stage of our careers: a young leader needing to make his own space, a newly appointed PI that can’t wait to get started, or an aspiring PI. We have different needs but so much in common. That said, here are some of the main things I took away from the course so far.
Self-reflection and owning our careers. A few months’ ago, I got an idea to set up what I thought could be a core biofacility specialising in surgeries. I started sharing my idea. Someone pointed out some of the weaknesses, which before accepting and working on them I was upset about; another suggested that I share my idea with someone with the necessary experience. Without realising, I was socializing my idea and using my network. I buried the idea for a while and then the workshop came with a lot of reflexions about me and my futureChoosing a coach, asking questions about ourselves. Some “me” time as one of my learning buddy point out was crucial to the process. The transformation had started.
The workshop changed my way of perceiving people surrounding me in the workplace. It was like I was seeing them with new eyes. It helped me reflect on which kind of leader I wanted to be.
Inspiration. The ERDLP has triggered, or helped to trigger, so many ideas. After three workshops and a meeting with my coach, I now have a two page proposal on the research I want to develop. My vision. I couldn’t have achieved this without using many workshop advice. I set up my goals – – big ones, small ones, tiny steps – wrote them down in my little notebook, and started acting. Then I started ticking them off and seeing my idea becoming a project, a proposal. No matter the amount of work you need to put into it, the reward is there.
Networking. We have a common interest in the workshop, which links us together, but our diversity is what makes us strong. From workshop to workshop we get to know each other’s personality, interest and work. It’s very stimulating to share visions and it sparks new ideas through collaborative work.
As for the book we were given (entitled “A very short, fairly interesting and reasonably cheap book about studying leadership”), my relationship with it has been funny. It took me more than a month to read 2 pages! The book was waiting for me to be ready and receptive to it. I needed to reflect on myself and my vision of leadership first so I could interact more with the book. I had some intuitive feelings about leadership, which the book confirmed, but it also gave more about the science behind it. Yes, there is a science of leadership! It considers the importance of followers as well as cultural difference and its influence on leadership. That’s as far as I’m in the book. I’ll keep you posted.
And now? I just came out of the 3rd workshop, inspired, creative and motivated. I rewrote part of my proposal, taking on board suggestions from the workshop. I started rewriting some goals, added more, and amended some to fit the latest outcomes.
I feel like I am blossoming.
I’ll keep you updated!
ERLDP workshop: http://www.training.cam.ac.uk/gdp/event/703587