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Key Dimensions of team/laboratory head leadership

The main responsibility of the team leader is to enable team members to collectively achieve levels of attainment not otherwise achievable and make a significant contribution to their field of research. From senior managements’ point of view this constitutes a significant contribution to organizational goals. At the risk of over simplifying complex interpersonal roles, team leaders are generally responsible for:

  1. Selecting and engaging the team and identifying individual abilities and strengths.
  2. Leading individuals whilst developing team cohesion through working with colleagues to set individual and collective goals.
  3. Assisting colleagues as a ‘pacemaker’ to set priorities to manage time pressures and commitments.
  4. Fostering a culture of work-life balance, including normalising flexible work practices.
  5. Developing strategies to address outcomes that are perceived as ‘success’, including reward and recognition, or ‘failure’, including coping mechanisms and building resilience.
  6. Mastering and teaching context specific tasks and field related domains.
  7. Developing appropriate modes of communication.
  8. Identifying risks associated with planned change agendas including identification of potential champions, inhibitors and conflicts.
  9. Developing networks that benefit the team leader and the team.
  10. Mentoring for change Mentoring for Change Report

In the science research workforce exercising team leadership also requires the skills to manage or coach colleagues who are passionate and committed to their research, highly value autonomy and are likely to be more connected with the scholarly community in their field or discipline than the organisation in which they work. This means that much of the formulaic leadership literature drawing on the corporate sector may be of limited relevance but the gender specific frameworks for change provide useful menus from which to identify priorities and the analysis of (Eagly and Carli, 2007) Women and the Labyrinth of Leadership is outstanding in this regard.


Women in the Science Research Workforce: Identifying and Sustaining the Diversity Advantage, was funded as an ARC Linkage project 2011-2014 (LP110200480).
Project Cis were Professor Sharon Bell and Professor Lyn Yates. The project was hosted by the University of Melbourne.