Friday, June 14, 2013

Science PIs Fail If They Are So Ego-Driven That They Stand in Front of Their Students

The title of this post is adapted from a quote from one of the most important Chinese philosophers, Lao Tzu, circa 6th century BCE. I saw it on Friday and it reminded me of a tweet that Ive been meaning to write. The Lao Tzu quote is:
"A leader is not a good leader if he is so ego-driven that he is always standing in front of his team"
My tweet would have been something like this (and yes tweeter aficionados, it is less than 140 characters):
"Scientists fail what they stand for if they do not acknowledge their students at the beginning, during, and end of every talk they give."
Here's what is easy to forget. PIs get the big corner office, the love and admiration from the group, the rush from the applause of a seminar crowd. But leaders must sacrifice themselves for those that produce the work. PIs are leaders of their team. But it is not leadership for them, but for their students. 

Remember this - Scientists should choose to be lab team leaders because they want to nurture the next generation just as much as they nurture their own children.  Indeed, scientists were once students themselves who needed their own leaders.

But perhaps the need for scientists to promote their students is even more paramount today than generations before, because the scientist pool is bigger than ever (only 14% of life science phds get tenure-track jobs), the competition is stiff, and the grant money is tight.

Put your students first in every thing we do. We are here to service them. 

What are your thoughts?

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