Develop other people’s talent
So how good are you in developing other people’s talent? It’s time for self-reflection!
Draw your own web!
Step 1: download and print a clean “web of science”
Step 2: fill in your current grades: very poor, poor, adequate, good, very good or excellent
Step 3: re-fill using your preferred grades
Step 4: define actions to get from current to preferred grades
The book offers questionnaires which you can use to get scores on the four webs. It also offers a range of exercises which you can try. They will help you defining actions to improve your scores.
Recognize the latent talent in the other person, be it a student or collaborator. Raise reasonable but high ambitions and expectations, create a safe environment where everybody can ask simple questions and make mistakes, give freedom how to proceed, be prepared to assist (serve) at any time, share credits, show how much fun it is to be in science, be a mentor and model lightning the fire in the other person.
You teach young scientists about your science and show how to perform their initial scientific tasks. Train them also in prioritizing, perseverance, speaking, writing, sharing and so on.
Over time your disciples will then become more independent and one-way instructions will change into exciting two-way discussions. They will become real collaborators. You may want your young scientists to collaborate not only with you but also with each other. Sharing first authorships may help them.
Talented athletes are scouted and intensively supervised by top coaches (former champions) and supported by other staff (physical, mental and media trainers) and the newest technologies, and well rewarded. You may need to provide the same kind of support, if your group or university is to succeed at the highest level.
Timely reward high performance. Young scientists will appreciate first authorships, their names being mentioned to other people, invitations to speak at a conference to be passed on to them, a celebratory cake once their paper is accepted. Senior scientists will appreciate freedom above all, but extra funds or salary will also do. Prizes, although likely despised by self-esteemed scientists, can catalyze careers.
18. Keep in touch
As professor it is your job to train students and postdocs and then kick them out. Make sure that they have a safe and successful landing. Arranging opportunities for them is creating opportunities for you. Thus prepare them well for jobs in the “outside” world and keep in touch!