In August 2017, I was privileged to be one of 22 participants in the SciFinder® Future Leaders program from CAS, a division of the American Chemical Society (ACS). In disbelief, I made my way from Malaysia to Columbus, Ohio, then to Washington, D.C., for the 254th ACS National Meeting & Exposition. This program has been a life-changing experience for me. From the meticulousness of the itinerary to the amount of exposure I received, I would say this is a top-notch program.
As a postdoctoral scientist, I engage in numerous research meetings and discussions. I work with (and mentor) research officers, as well as postgraduate students. Research meetings are a core component of my daily routine. A challenge I think we all face at one point or the other is managing people and their various personalities. There is simply not one management style that works for every type of person. An approach that motivates one often creates an opposite effect on another.
“Management is about human beings. Its task is to make people capable of joint performance, to make their strengths effective and their weaknesses irrelevant.”
– Peter Drucker
This quote resonated in my mind at a SciFinder® Future Leaders program session titled “Fostering Leadership-Knowing your Innovation Style”. Here, we were taught to build rapport with research team members while helping them reach their potential. We learned about the phases of innovative growth (formative, normative, maturity, and transformative) and how different personality traits fit into these phases.
Through several exercises, we were taught to classify personality traits through a simple model. At the end of it, we were briefed on how each of our personality traits affected our innovation score. I was happy to know my innovation “style” and how I could use it to contribute to the growth of my research team.
What struck me most was learning how introverts and extroverts can use their different strengths to achieve a common goal. We learned to leverage these groups’ different advantages while acknowledging their individuality. Ultimately, a research team is most efficient when everyone plays to their strengths. Accepting a diverse variety of personalities is vital to achieving the maximum potential of a team.
The SciFinder Future Leaders program exposed me to the softer side of science. This was something I did not expect when I first heard about this program. The memories made and the knowledge learned will be something I will treasure for a lifetime.
Magaret Sivapragasam is a recipient of the 2017 SciFinder® Future Leaders award. Currently, she is attached to the PETRONAS Ionic Liquids Centre, a collaborative effort between Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS, PETRONAS Research Sdn. Bhd. and PETRONAS Group Technology Research Management. Apart from her passion for science communication, she enjoys traveling, food and animals. Follow her on Instagram at magaret62.