On Thursday January 26, right after the successful Faraday Discussion Conference in Capetown, the South African Center of Excellence c*change and Syngaschem BV hosted a scientific leadership course at the University of Capetown for about 45 participants. In a session of 3.5 hours, Graham Hutchings, Jan-Karel Felderhof and Hans Niemantsverdriet spoke about the essentials of leading an academic research group.
Graham presented several examples of famous scientists, and discussed whether they could be qualified as successful leaders. He gave good advice from his own experience on how it is sometimes necessary to educate your boss, and to ensure that you reserve enough time to generate ideas and funds for research: Time, Money and Great Ideas are among the most essential ingredients for success in academia.
Jan Karel shared his insights in how people successfully develop from newcomers to well-established self-leaders, and may then grow to true mentors for others. Belonging to the team, and feeling accepted and appreciated are crucial requirements for the motivation of novices and establishing self confidence.
Hans introduced several concepts on management and leadership, and on how to supervise team members. Getting experienced is a process that resembles catalysis – after every hurdle taken successfully, and every challenge conquered, one feels more secure and hence more fit towards leadership.