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What PhDs Need To Know About Leadership & How To Become A Career Multiplier

Skip ahead to:

05:40 – Show Me the Data
23:35 – What PhDs Need To Know About Leadership w/ Liz Wiseman
44:20 – Importance Of Continued Technical Training w/ Tim Bushnell, Ph.D.
56:20 – Project Manager Career Track w/ Orly Levitan, Ph.D.

Do want to move beyond entry level positions? 

Ready to learn more about how you can develop your leadership skills?

In this episode of Cheeky Scientist Radio we are very excited to be joined by Liz Wiseman, renowned Researcher, Executive Advisor, CEO and Author. As a PhD you are qualified for management-level positions in industry but to thrive in those positions you need to become a true leader, in this episode we learn from one of the top leadership experts in the world, Liz Wiseman! Plus we discuss the importance of continued education to your career with Tim Bushnell, Ph.D. and  we learn about what it’s like to work as a Project Manager from Orly Levitan, Ph.D.

About Our Guests

Liz Wiseman is a researcher and executive advisor who teaches leadership to executives around the world. She is the author of New York Times bestseller Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, The Multiplier Effect: Tapping the Genius Inside Our Schools, and Wall Street Journal bestseller Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work.  

She is the CEO of the Wiseman Group, a leadership research and development firm headquartered in Silicon Valley, California. Some of her recent clients include: Apple, AT&T, Disney, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Nike, Salesforce, Tesla, and Twitter. Liz has been listed on the Thinkers50 ranking and named one of the top 10 leadership thinkers in the world.   

She has conducted significant research in the field of leadership and collective intelligence and writes for Harvard Business Review, Fortune, and a variety of other business and leadership journals. A former executive at Oracle Corporation, she worked over the course of 17 years as the Vice President of Oracle University and as the global leader for Human Resource Development.

She is a frequent guest lecturer at BYU and Stanford University. Liz holds a Bachelors degree in Business Management and a Masters of Organizational Behavior from Brigham Young University.

Tim Bushnell, Ph.D. is the Director of the University of Rochester Medical Center Shared Resource Lab and co-founder of Expert Cytometry. Here’s a bit about him in his own words: I enjoy answering paradigm-shifting questions and trouble-shooting puzzling glitches. I also like finding new ways to enhance old procedures. I’m passionate about my professional relationships and strive to fill them with positive energy.

My other passions include grilling, wine tasting, and real food. My biggest passion is flow cytometry and my personal mission is to make flow cytometry education accessible, relevant, and fun. I’ve had a long history in the field starting all the way back in graduate school.

Orly Levitan Ph.D. earned her PhD at Bar-llan Univeristy and is currently the Senior Project Manager at HYGIEACARE Inc where she is Responsible for the HyGIbiome® business and research program, aimed towards maximizing the value of the HyGIeaCare products and services on the gut and overall health of our patients. Her role at HYGIEACARE involves initiating, forming and maintaining collaborations, both with the private sector and with the scientific-academic world and she is in charge of communicating the company’s products and science to our different stakeholders.

Key Takeaways

1. According to a survey of employers, there is a lack of quality leaders in industry at all levels. 

2. Good leaders are ‘Multipliers’ meaning that they bring out the best in the people around them. They allow others to fully share and develop their own genius, which then benefits the entire organization. 

3. Even in a technical R&D role employers are considering the way you will fit into the company culture and the team very highly. They want to hire someone who they want to work with, someone with good soft skills. 

Why Industry Needs PhDs Like You To Step Up And Lead 

First, it’s imperative that you realize the importance of all your so called soft skills.

They are actually more important than your technical skills.

A recent survey by Yoh, found that 75% of Americans say they would prefer to hire a candidate who has the right transferable skills, even if they are missing the required technical skills or if you don’t have the required experience.

This is great news for you as a PhDs because it means you don’t need that industry experience if you just develop your transferable skills and learn how to communicate your transferable skills effectively.

But this also means that if you don’t develop your transferable skills, if you don’t communicate those on your resume, your LinkedIn profile, during the interview process, it is very, very unlikely that you will get hired.

Not fully understanding how to communicate transferable skills is the number one reason that we see PhDs really struggling in their job search.

And one of the most sought after transferable skills is leadership.

The Brandon Hall Group, found that 84% of organizations anticipate a shortfall of leaders in the next five years.

That means the vast majority of organizations are on the lookout for new leaders.

The study also found that 58% of organization’s top priority is closing leadership skill gaps, at all levels.

SO whether you are getting into your first industry position or you are looking for a promotion, organizations are searching for people who can help fill the leadership gaps at their company.

Demonstrate to them that you are the leader they need. 

What PhDs Need To Know About Leadership & How To Become A Career Multiplier: A Conversation With Liz Wiseman

Isaiah: The first question that I have is, can you help us understand what you would define as a leader?

Liz: Well, I’ll share with you my favorite definition and it came from Jim Collins who wrote Good to Great and a number of other great books. I heard him describe it as a leader is someone that people follow when they don’t have to. I just can’t think of a better definition. Of course a leader is someone that people follow. But a lot of us are pretending to follow people because we have to and I think a true leader is someone that you follow willingly of your own volition. You would follow them whether you report to them, whether you work for their company or not. They tend to bring out people’s best and engender people’s best thinking and also all of their discretionary effort.

Isaiah: before we talk about what a multiplier is, what made you write this book? Why did you write it?

Liz: Well, it was combination of an observation, a question and a pressing need. I really wrote it because nobody else had written it. So the observation came out of my years in the corporate world and I noticed I got thrown into management really early in my career and because of that I watched really carefully what the people who seemed to know what they were doing we’re doing and what I noticed is that despite the fact that I was working around a lot of really, really smart people and working on an executive team of brilliant people, not all of those brilliant people caused brilliance around them.

I would watch absolutely brilliant executives walk in a room and I would see, it was like you could witness the collective IQ of the room drop.

Like people would cower around these leaders or they were just hold back because maybe that person was so smart and capable, everyone deferred to them and I ended up calling these leaders diminishers because they were smart, but they ended up diminishing the intelligence and capability of the people around them.

But I watched other leaders who were equally brilliant come into a room and I watched people step up and speak up and be at their best, and it was just an observation like, wow, why are we so smart around some people but not around others? Why is it that the leader seems to have an effect on essentially effective intelligence?

I was just curious about this. I left the corporate world. I began doing some executive coaching and did a lot of coaching. It was actually in coaching someone that I was explaining this dynamic and he’s like, “Oh, that’s interesting. So what you’re saying is some leaders are like amplifiers of intelligence,” and that’s where this name multipliers came from. I went out looking for research on this. I was sure somebody else had stated it. It was such an obvious dynamic, but nobody had.

There was nothing even remotely close to a study around this and so that was the pressing need. Honestly, I was looking for an article to give my coaching client and there was none. So I figured, well, someone’s got to do this.

Isaiah: So what were the findings? What were these, as you started to look at these amplifiers who turned into the multipliers, what were the qualities of these multipliers and how are they different from the diminishers?

Liz: Well, I’ll tell you that the not so surprising finding is that these leaders operate in very different ways and may come from a very different mindset. That’s not the surprising part. I can tell you more about that.

But here’s what’s surprising is I found that these diminishing leaders get less than half of people’s available intelligence.

By that I mean, their knowledge, their skills, their insights, both their technical skills as well as their creativity, half, less than half. Of course, the organization is paying full price.

So like a school principal, a school board hires all these teachers, but if they have a diminishing principal on staff, they’re yielding about 50% of the value of what they’ve just invested in and that happens all over the world. 

The second thing that was surprising is that, well, so few of these diminishers understood the diminishing impact they were having. But the truly surprising finding was that most of the diminishing that’s happening is not coming from these tyrannical, narcissistic bully like diminishers, that most of it is coming from really well intended people, the people who are trying to close that leadership gap, people who want to be good bosses, good managers and I find that most of the diminishing is coming from what I call the accidental diminisher… watch the video above to hear the who interview. 

Importance Of Continued Technical Training: A Conversation With Tim Bushnell, Ph.D.

Isaiah: You’ve worked with the biggest companies in industry,  Regeneron, MedImmune, Pfizer, SickKids, etc why are these companies putting such value in ongoing technical training now for their staff? Why is it so important for a PhD who gets into industry to continue their technical training as well, if they want to advance in their careers? 

Tim Bushnell: Well, I think we have to go back to the whole reproducibility crisis in science. I like to point out both the Bayer study and the Begley Analysis paper. Bayer said only 25% of the work they tried to reproduce was reproducible. And Begley was at Amgen and it was only like 11% of the studies that they could reproduce.

So that really shows that poor science can’t get transferred into biotech industry and lead to downstream treatments and improvement in the products. So having a continuing skillset in flow cytometry is very big in a lot of these areas, oncology, immunology, things of that nature. Knowing the best practices is critical.

And if you learned your practices 25 years ago, and you haven’t changed, what you’re doing now is bad science.

And that’s going to lead to poor reproducible results. So what you need to do is keep up to date as what’s going on. I mean, even for a mature science like flow cytometry, we’re still seeing developments. The CyTOF mass cytometer five years ago, spectral analyzers, smaller, faster, portable machines, larger numbers of fluorochromes. You can ask more questions, but you have to be careful that you know how to do that properly. You can’t go from running a four or five fluorescent panel to running an 80 color panel in a week, although people try.

Isaiah: What do you see being the benefit of these technical training courses?

Tim: Well, so in flow cytometry, we have a certification exam. To keep that current, you need to have continuing education credit. And one of the ways to get it is by taking the videos from Expert Cytometry, and watching those, and participating in that program. So you can get one CE per video, effectively. And that’s a lot cheaper than trying to send your technical staff to meetings and conferences where you can get CE credit. You’re talking about thousands of dollars just to register for some of these classes.

In addition to that, you’re making sure that your team members and your senior people who are taking the material too, have the understanding of the best practices. Why should we be doing this, or why should we be doing that?

When I was just out of biotech, and we were talking about the whole issue of isotype controls, which is a huge issue. If you read the Excyte blogs, and read some of the other material we’ve written, doing isotype controls is not the best practice. So they’re wasting money, they’re wasting time, they’re wasting energy. So knowing the best practices helps you also save money. And having a team that’s got the skill set means that you’re going to do the process right the first time. You’re not going to have to reinvent the wheel a hundred times and lose that momentum.

Project Manager Career Track: A Conversation With Orly Levitan, Ph.D.

Isaiah: I know this is the reason that you got hired, because you’re able to do this. So help us get inside the mind of Orly. How do you pull off this magic trick of getting people to do stuff when you don’t have any authority over them?

Orly: I work really hard. I believe in what I do. I try to reflect it. I work for the best … for what I believe that is the best for the company. And I believe that the people that work with me want the same.

I try really, within interactions, to minimize my ego. It’s not easy after I’ve been a professor in academia. But it’s really like, it’s about the product. It’s about the project. It’s about the company.

And I try to be as polite as I can, and to be very elaborative, to be very transparent, to explain why I need those things to get done. So far it has been working.

Isaiah: Can you break your project manager role down even more to almost on a day to day, or week to week basis? How much of it’s meetings, following up with people, checking on timelines, projects, juggling, what does the role look like?

Orly: It’s everything. And that’s what I love about it. So there are days that I have back to back meetings in … I actually work around the clock, so I live in the Northeast, and I work … there are days that I start very early with Israel, and then follow up meetings with Germany, and then have some kind of a break, and then I work with California. And I love it.

It’s really nice. So like some days are meetings, some days where I detach, and I do a lot of research. Some days I write, some days are for data analysis. As I said, it’s a small company, so I get to do a lot of that.

And there is the 30 minutes a day where I have the list of emails, people to follow, to see was the money wired here with this, did this happen, do I need to reply to that? So you kinda need to form a system. And it’s really nice.

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Isaiah Hankel Ph.D.

Isaiah Hankel Ph.D.

Isaiah is a Ph.D. in Anatomy & Cell Biology and internationally recognized Fortune 500 consultant. He is an expert in the biotechnology industry and specializes in helping people transition into cutting-edge career tracks.

Isaiah believes that if you feel stuck somewhere in your life right now, you should make a change. Don’t sit still and wait for the world to tell you what to do. Start a new project. Build your own business. Take action. Experimentation is the best teacher.
Isaiah Hankel Ph.D.