As with any other project, research endeavors require leadership and teamwork. Project management can be an intimidating responsibility for scientists, especially in the early years of your career. However, the skills you learn as a research leader can benefit you for years to come. No matter where your career leads or what kinds of roles you take on, the essential qualities of a research project leader will transfer to any project or position. Learn how to improve yourself for your project, your team, and your future with these useful skills and attributes.
Transparency and Communication
If your project is going to be a success, your entire team needs to be on the same page about goals, expectations, and processes. It’s crucial to define your vision clearly so that everyone understands what the team is working for and how you’re going to accomplish it. Verbal and written communication is equally important. Keep a detailed and organized research notebook to record every step of the project—and make sure your team does the same. You should also be able to check in on your team, give constructive feedback, and listen actively to individuals when they ask questions or make suggestions.
Problem Solving and Conflict Management
As a leader, it’s your job to address problems and find a solution that keeps everyone on track and satisfied with their work. When issues arise, you need to help your team face them rather than avoid or ignore them. This goes beyond problems with your work. You must be a neutral and helpful party in personnel issues. Conflict between members of your team can affect everyone’s work and create a tense environment. By encouraging collaboration and compromise—and by ensuring everyone feels comfortable and respected—you can navigate your research team through conflict and toward productive solutions.
Motivation and Empowerment
The best leaders serve as examples to their team. That’s why it’s so important to display these essential qualities of a research project leader. If you’re passionate, your team will pick up on your enthusiasm. If you work hard, everyone else will, too. Your attitude can either discourage or motivate your team, while the work you do will either hinder or empower them. When you put your best self forward, you create an atmosphere of passion, drive, and integrity. This will spread throughout your team, allowing all of you to accomplish great things together.