What makes a good leader?
By s.duran, on 30 September 2021
Kicking off our autumn term of employer events, we welcomed two researcher employers to discuss an important and hard to define area – leadership. So, what skills make up good leadership and what are researcher employers looking for? Mansi Vithlani, Business Unit Director from Dolon Consulting and Matt Tsim, Head of MedTech at Costello Medical, joined our researcher community to share their insights.
Strategic, critical thinking
Whether in an interview or on the job, Matt and Vansi agreed that employers are looking for people with a strong ability to think critically and strategically when solving problems. They shared several ways applicants and employees can demonstrate this – including adapting a structure, identifying key project risks and mitigation strategies, and planning and delivering a longer-term strategy. Matt highlighted critical thinking as the main area he assesses at interview – he seeks to understand the thinking behind the answers.
Emotional intelligence and professionalism
Mansi shared the need for leaders to demonstrate emotional intelligence and professionalism in their roles. In addition to understanding and responding to the needs of a team, this skill is a key part of cultivating strong relationships with colleagues and clients. Employers are looking for people who can manage the complexity of behaviour, strengths, and challenges in others, and use this to build relationships.
Autonomous self-driven working
In a junior role, you will have a manager or senior leader directing and overseeing your work. As a leader, you become the main driver of progress for your team. You will decide what areas to pursue, what holds value, and how you can achieve your goals. While this can be a fun part of a leadership role, it can also be challenging. You will be responsible for setting and achieving targets and creating a balance for yourself and your team within that freedom. Matt recommended developing your vision and strategy by thinking about the key things you aim to achieve in six or twelve months, and working backwards from there.
A leadership position means that you will face a series of challenging situations where you will have to use your skills to manage complex situations. These will come into play when pursuing projects, dealing with team dynamics, and implementing change. As Matt discussed, the complexity can be overwhelming. As a leader, it is your responsibility to guide your own and your team’s efforts to the things that make a difference. In seeking your first role outside of academia, you may not transfer directly into a leadership position. However, these skills are important to remember as your experience puts you in a strong position to take advantage of progression opportunities.
If you’re interested in finding out more about researcher positions in consulting, sign up for our Researchers Careers in Consultancy Panel on the 13th of October.
You can find more workshops and employer-led events through the Autumn Term Researcher’s Careers Calendar.