Management Styles....a new thread?

Sandra Weller Weller at
Tue Jan 23 21:33:05 EST 1996

In article <4ds4gg$er at>, "Jennifer L. Potter"
<jras at> wrote:

> Question:  What are the keys to people management in the lab?  I have
> personally experienced a variety of managment styles, none of which I
> have found to be particularly successful when used on myself or others, 
> or that I would feel comfortable emulating if/when I am in the boss' 
> shoes.  I worry that I would be too much of a "softie" when it comes to 
> dealing with the people under me....or that I would swing too far the 
> other way and be a B****.  How to achieve balance?  Does your management 
> style get misinterpreted because you're a woman?

Dear Jennifer,

I have been running my own lab for 11 years now and have had many similar
questions about styles of management.  I don't think there are any "keys
to people management in the lab". I am particularly sensitive to being
thought of as a B****, but I realize that I would be doing a disservice to
my students and fellows to not expect them to do their best.  It is a fine
balance and one which I struggle with daily.  Most of the time I try to be
a cheer leader dispensing encouragement and enthusiasm.  I think each
mentor needs to develop his or her own style of running a lab and I must
say I am getting more comfortable with the role.  At first I felt like a
student myself and it was very hard to feel that I was the "boss".  My own
graduate advisor was a brilliant Nobel prize winner who (unintentionally I
think) was very intimidating to me.  I became reluctant to voice my own
opinions or ideas and suffered several "crises in confidence" through my
graduate years.  I gained confidence as a postdoctoral fellow and have
developed my own style of mentoring which does not closely match either of
my former mentors, yet I have learned from each certain aspects of styles
which work and styles which do not.  I am very pleased with the way things
are going in my lab right now.  I am particularly grateful to a group of
women faculty who meet regularly for tea (Thursdays at 3 in the
cafeteria). We trade stories, cry on each other's shoulders and give each
other encouragement.  I try not to worry too much about my style being
misinterpreted.  I have experienced some success and I am trying not to be
oppressed by nagging doubts and "crises in confidence".  I am doing the
best that I can do right now; that's enough (most days).  Good luck and
try not to worry.  It sounds corny, but I think your heart is in the right
place and that you will have compassion for those that you mentor.   
Sandra Weller

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