Focus on Leadership

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We have all heard stories about inspirational leaders and what they have achieved but what is your leadership story? Whether you are just starting out or have been in a leadership position for many years there are always areas for improvement. In 2015 the Midlands Hub will be offering the opportunity to 20 researchers to improve their leadership skills by taking part in a 2 day leadership course.

Preparing for Leadership for Research Staff is a course specifically for researchers who are in the first 4 years of their postdoctoral career and who are starting to take on leadership roles or who wish to take on more leadership roles in the future.

team work for success

The 2 day course will take place on the 8th and 9th of Janaury in Birmingham and will take participants though many aspects of leadership including:

  • Leading self
  • Intellectual leadership
  • Team leadership

By the end of this programme, you will be better able to:

  • Appreciate the critical situations that have led you to be successful to date
  • Consider what leadership might mean
  • Understand yourself and your preferences that will allow you to exercise leadership in a way that suits you
  • Clarify the tasks that are expected of you both now and in future roles
  • Identify the areas of competency that are required for the next steps into leadership positions
  • Create a vision and strategy to implement; decide what is important for you
  • Decide the culture you want to create
  • Decide how to get the best out of other people
  • Decide how to develop yourself to do all of these things more effectively
  • Appreciate what is important and essential in any future role
  • Develop a peer network

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If you would like to know more about your leadership style take a look at The Leading Researcher; it gives an overview of different leadership styles and offers advice and guidance on how you could gain more leadership experience in your current role regardless of whether you are the boss or not.

 

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Going Solo – The theory behind self employment

Opportunity

Earlier this month I wrote about the potential benefits of self employment. Now I will consider the theory behind why completing a PhD or being post-doc or Early Career Research puts you in a great position to take the next step to going it alone.

How many of you would say you have expertise in any of the following areas?

  • Analysing
  • Synthesising
  • Critical Thinking
  • Evaluating
  • Problem Solving
  • Inquiring Mind
  • Innovation
  • Enthusiasm
  • Perseverance
  • Self confidence
  • Self reflection
  • Preparation and prioritisation
  • Responsiveness to change
  • Responsiveness to opportunities
  • Networking
  • Income and funding generation
  • Project planning and delivery
  • Risk Management
  • Ethics, principles and sustainability
  • Legal requirements
  • IPR and copyright
  • Society and culture
  • Enterprise
  • Communication methods
  • Team working
  • People Management
  • Influence and leadership
  • Collaboration 

In a recent article from entrepreneur.com Stephen Key lists 5 qualities of successful entrepreneurs. I have mapped Stephen’s advice to the enterprise lens of the RDF and found all of the highlighted attributes are covered in his qualities

1. An unwavering passion. Being an entrepreneur demands commitment and dedication — more than most jobs do, I’d argue.

The Enterprise Lens highlights these attributes

  • Enthusiasm
  • Perseverance

 2. Open-mindedness. The most successful entrepreneurs never forget how much they can learn from others. They ask for advice. They’re flexible. They soak up the best practices around them like a sponge.

The Entrprise Lens highlights these attributes as

  •  Analysing
  • Synthesising
  • Critical Thinking
  • Evaluating
  • Problem Solving
  • Inquiring Mind
  • Innovation
  • Responsiveness to change
  • Responsiveness to opportunities
  • Networking
  • Collaboration 

3. The desire to be an expert. Entrepreneurs like a challenge, but as exciting as it is to consider a new field, high-achieving entrepreneurs know the benefits of staying in the same industry for a while are immense. Learn an industry’s  history. Knowing what’s been done before can help you identify how it can and should move forward. In the meantime, you’ll build a network of relationships to support you in future endeavors, especially when times are lean. Those relationships are invaluable.

The Entrprise Lens highlights these attributes as

  • Society and culture
  • Enterprise
  • Team working
  • People Management
  • Influence and leadership
  • Networking
  • Collaboration 
  • Analysing
  • Synthesising
  • Critical Thinking
  • Evaluating
  • Problem Solving
  • Legal requirements
  •  IPR and copyright
  • Communication methods
  • Income and funding generation

 4. A forward-looking approach. Successful entrepreneurs are always thinking ahead. They may stray from their roadmap, and that’s okay, but they have one in mind. Having a clearly established set of goals will keep you from getting stuck. Your goals may be constantly evolving, but if you don’t know where you want to go, chances are, you won’t get anywhere

The Entrprise Lens highlights these attributes as:

  • Project planning and delivery
  • Risk Management
  • Ethics, principles and sustainability

 5. A constant flow of ideas. Having one project that’s doing well is great. But the successful entrepreneurs I know don’t rest on their laurels. Instead, they’re constantly asking themselves, “What’s next?” They understand that being a successful entrepreneur is a lifestyle choice, not a destination.

The Entrprise Lens highlights these attributes as

  • Evaluating
  • Problem Solving
  • Inquiring Mind
  • Innovation

 Taken and edited from http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/227776

If this has inspired you to think more about self employment or entrepreneurship why not have a look at What do researchers do? Career Profiles of doctoral entrepreneurs

New Year, New Job?

Curriculum vitae  concept in word tag cloud

So, it’s the start of another year and for some the end of your current contract may be looming faster that you care to imagine, for others you have decided it is time to look for a new challenge in your career and perhaps for others it is the year when you will take the first step on the career ladder with a new and shiny PhD certificate under your belt.

Whatever boat you are in there is lots of help and advice out there for you.

The Career Blog from the University of Warwick provides a great starting point when it comes to applying for jobs including a salient reminder that “finding a job is a pretty time consuming process: don’t take the path of least resistance by applying for any and everything.”

 As researchers we should know not to skip the most important stage of our job search: research. “Until you know what’s out there and how to get it, you’ll simply repeat the same mistakes or see your efforts wasted” says Helen Stringer, Careers Consultant at the University of Warwick. “Don’t cut corners and apply for something that isn’t right for you.  Take small practical steps instead that will give you a firm anchor until you have the time and motivation to fully commit to your job search.”

When it comes to CVs there is also a wealth of information and tips out there. Vitae and Prospects both have example CVs and advice about the type of CV to use. If you are starting from a completely blank sheet the National Careers Service has some helpful advice including a generic CV builder. One word of warning from ‘The Careers Blog’ which is particularly important to remember is;  as productive as it feels, firing of  hundreds of CVs is little more than application spamming and potential employers can tell. Other useful places to look include the Guardian, which recently published an interested article on refreshing your CV.

For some jobs, you are more likely to need to complete an online application form than send a CV. There are a number of key things to remember when completing your application including drafting your answers offline to avoid losing work and of course grammar and spell checking your text before inputting to the system and pressing ‘submit’.

Whatever your career plans for 2014, we wish you the best of luck.

 

Have you considered what excellent research is and the impact that it can have?

Excellent researchers understand that their work can change the world. They know that how they go about the work, and talk about it, can have a huge impact on how both their work and they, are viewed. They know how to stand out from the crowd.pencil_standing out

Vitae is running a number of professional training courses across the UK to help you consider how you can make your mark, conduct excellent research and consider the impact your research will have.

The Vitae Midlands Hub is hosting one of these courses on December 5th at Keele University. The course will draw on the current agendas of research impact demonstrated by the funding bodies and grant holders, but with specific focus on you and how you work. Through discussion and practical activities you will consider both the impact of your research, and the impact you have in the research environment in which you work.

The Vitae Midlands Hub has 18 places on this course available, and unlike other courses, this professional training is free of charge. If you would like to be considered for one of these highly sought after places then please apply through the Vitae website.

Building a Community: The Midlands Research Staff Association

Why become involved in the Midlands Research Staff Association?

researcher large

The Midlands RSA is part of the UK Research Staff Association (UKRSA), an association of researchers working to represent the interests of research staff in universities and research institutes.

The Midlands RSA aims to build a community of researchers across a wide range of disciplines, which can provide you with a support network regardless of where your next contract might take you. Every member of the Midlands RSA is encouraged to actively participate in improving their own personal and professional development, offering opportunities to engage with like-minded colleagues. The Midlands RSA will support you in developing a successful research career, facilitating networking and collaboration and providing wider access to resources. We also aim to share best practice between institutions, improving provision of career support and guidance across the region.

If you:

  • utilize social networking tools to share information
  • want to be part of a supportive community you can access regardless of your location in the Midlands
  • enjoy communicating online
  • have an interest in career development, employment rights, equality and diversity, research ethics, funding, impact, or researcher mobility
  • feel passionately about an issue that affects research staff and is not listed above
  • have a brilliant idea that must see the light of day
  • enjoy networking
  • are interested in research policy or
  • have taken the time to read every item on this list

then there is a place for you as a member of the Midlands RSA. 

Membership is free and you can join today.

All researchers and research-related organisations are welcome to participate in Midlands RSA activities. All members of research staff employed in Midlands-based institutions are eligible for membership of the Midlands RSA and the UKRSA committee, and for positions of leadership within the UKRSA. The Midlands RSA contributes to the work of the UKRSA, who work with Vitae to implement Principle 5 of The Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers : ‘Individual researchers share the responsibility for and need to pro-actively engage in their own personal and career development, and lifelong learning.’ 

Other ways you can connect with the Midlands Research Staff Association

You can also join our Midlands Research Staff Association Linkedin group , like us on  Facebook ,  follow us on Twitter @MidlandsHub and subscribe to updates of the Midlands Hub Blog.

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Alex Tarr from the University of Nottingham is the current Chair of the Midlands Research Staff Association. We are looking to recruit a co-chair to support the work of the association. If you would like to be considered for this position please complete the short online application form

PhD Potential: Peer-2-Peer Coaching Taster for Staff Supporting Researchers

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A very snowy Birmingham played host to the SWW and Midlands Hub Peer2Peer Coaching Taster workshop last week. Participants from Exeter to Glasgow traveled to the Midlands to learn more about the programme which emerged from work by the Vitae coaching project group (established as an outcome from Vitae Connections2 event -November 2010). Jeff Gill and Will Medd, who have written the programme, were on hand to lead the participants through a series of taster activities and answer questions about the programme and how it has run at Lancaster University and at the University of Manchester.

*Objectives and outcomes of the Peer-2-Peer Coaching Skills Programme

The Peer-2-Peer Coaching Skills Programme has been designed to provide postgraduate researchers with core coaching skills and techniques to enable them to thrive in their doctorate while developing skills for the future. The emphasis of the programme is in enabling PGRs to use coaching skills in relationship with their peers as well as self-coaching.

The objectives of the programme are to:

  • apply coaching skills to support the performance and development of individual PGRs
  • train PGRs in peer coaching skills to enable better peer support
  • enable PGRs to self-coach in areas identified from the Vitae Researcher Development Framework

The key outcomes will be:

  • PGRs with core coaching skills that they can use to support their peers
  • PGRS with core self-coaching skills that they can apply to their PhDs performance and the development of their employability skills
  • PGRS with enhanced employability through the coaching skills learnt
  • PGRS able to maximise their learning from other training programmes

Who the programme is for?

The programme has been designed specifically for PGRs (though is adaptable to Contract Researchers). Any PGR who could improve some aspect of what they are doing or experiencing, or who wants to get more out of their work can benefit from the programme. PGRs could bring issues around wanting to improve specific skills sets (e.g. time management, presentations), improving particular areas of performance (e.g. writing, publishing), or around personal and professional development (e.g. leadership qualities, work-life balance).

*Extract from PhD Potential: Peer-2-peer coaching skills programme. Programme Leader and Facilitator Manual www.vitae.ac.uk © 2012 The Careers Research and Advisory Centre (CRAC) Limited.

If you were unable to attend this taster session, but would like to know more about the PhD Potential: Peer2Peer Coaching resources please contact midlandshub@vitae.ac.uk or swwhub@vitae.ac.uk for further information.