Although it takes practice, I do my best to give the volunteers whom I have led on various committees a good sense of those things. Knowing what the final product of my work will be (whether it’s a publication, poster or something else) has always been helpful to know ahead of time.
That allows a team to work backwards in thinking about how to accomplish the small, gradual tasks leading up to the ultimate goal.
Create a detailed plan so that each person knows what they are supposed to be doing.
Perhaps it is just personal preference, but I am much more productive when I know what I need to do, when it’s due and how it fits into the grander vision.
I have always felt grateful to my mentors but never quite articulated it out loud.
That is one of the issues with academe today: we expect certain things from our principal investigators, and if we are lucky enough to have a great mentor (as I did in graduate school), we should thank them for what they did for us and not take them for granted.Someone took a chance on me and allowed me to learn and grow personally and professionally alongside them, as well as gave me independence to pursue my own interests.That helped me make the transition from an inexperienced graduate student to an independent researcher.Collaborating towards a common vision is something I have tried to impart to any team that I have led -- and will emphasize with those I lead in the future. Most people are busy, and if you want something from them, it is best to let them know well in advance.So give them plenty of notice for meetings or tasks you want them to perform and schedule meetings at a time when everyone can participate.When I started graduate school, I mostly looked at the details of my experiments and didn’t think about the broader vision of my work. Later on, I realized that my mentor had always looked at the big picture and filled in the details that made the most sense for what we were trying to accomplish, and I trusted in her leadership. We must have someone who will be our champion along the way and help us progress down a certain path -- and, in my case, also help us discover what that path is.At the time, I was probably thinking that the most important thing in the world was to publish a paper and graduate with my Ph. Now, after having led teams in various settings, I understand the need to work backwards from the broader vision to the specific details. By having not only a supportive mentor but also someone who will let us explore things on our own, we can discover so much about ourselves along the way.This type of discovery is not possible without stepping away from our busy lives and taking the time for introspection, and it also requires having someone to allow us to do that.I appreciate the people who trained me in that way, and I try to do the same for others. As important as it is to be a good leader, you will not be able to achieve much -- or at least not be able to make a lasting, long-term impact -- without a team to support you.Understanding someone’s background is crucial to knowing what might motivate them to act for change. Even the most motivated people sometimes lose track of the bigger vision and their role within it, which is why having a leader who can articulate the mission repeatedly is vital to the overall success of any group.It's important to remind team members of where they fit in the larger goal of the organization, as well as to show appreciation for their contributions to it. As a leader yourself, it is not always easy to stay on task.