Soft Skills in a World of Hard Data:
Negotiating a Scientist’s Roles
As a scientist, your academic training prepared you to be a researcher, which you love. But what of the other roles you have added along the way? Who trained you to be a mentor, a personnel manager, a project manager, a budgeter? Where did you learn to be a publicist, an advocate, a grant writer? And how do you reconcile the conflicting demands these roles place on you? Doing research requires single-minded devotion to discovering a definitive answer. Yet, managing other people requires skill at achieving harmony and consensus. Getting the funding you need may require negotiation and even compromise. Crunching your data begins to look simple by comparison.
This is a familiar problem to technical/scientific professionals. Your technical skills advance you in your career to a point where other skills are required for further success. The so-called “soft skills” of leadership, communication, and team-building move from the back seat to the driver’s seat. The good news is, these are transferable skills, with a surprising amount of science behind them.
In this presentation, the following questions will be addressed:
- How are practicing scientists challenged by the sometimes incompatible roles they find themselves in?
- What are some of those roles and where does the need for them originate?
- How are the communication requirements of these roles different?
- What are the leadership principles that can help scientists function in management roles with less frustration and anxiety?
Attendees will leave this session with a renewed commitment to embracing all the roles thrust upon them. This 60-minute presentation is an excellent closing session for an association’s or company’s annual meeting or other professional development event. While intended for scientists at mid-career, it can be adapted for other technical audiences.