Leadership Training for Scientists - Cambridge and UK-wide

Lab to Leader

Training future leaders in science and technology

This transformative programme is based on our years of experience working with scientific and research-driven organisations, and provides specialist leadership training for scientists and researchers as they step into management. 

Delivered as a series of classroom or virtual training modules or as one-to-one coaching, the programme builds the people skills and confidence vital to translating success in the lab into success as a leader or supervisor.

Leadership training for scientists - Lab to Leader

Focusing on scientists' needs

For many scientists and researchers, the step into a management or supervisory role can be daunting. Brilliance in the lab doesn’t always translate into comfort and competence in positions of leadership.

We’ve found that whilst scientists are often great at getting to grips with the task-focused elements of management, the interpersonal aspects of the role can be more of a challenge. Many also struggle with stepping back from their own priorities to help shape and coordinate the work of others.
These problems are found across sectors, but are especially acute in scientific contexts. This is partly as a result of the kinds of personalities that are attracted to science, and partly because of the unique demands of research roles.

Success in science requires more than individual talent. For a lab or project to be successful requires that every member of the team contributes their best. And that means PhDs need supervising, post-docs need guidance, and colleagues need to be coordinated, motivated and supported.

Through our conversations with scientists moving into leadership we know that everyone responds to the challenge differently. So we work with delegates individually to identify an authentic leadership style that plays to their strengths, whilst addressing learning needs. With additional coaching support, we help delegates develop the all-round skills vital to the next generation of scientific leadership.

Our clients include:

“This course was unlike any other I have been on and it has been nothing short of transformational for me! I am weaving aspects of it into areas of my life both inside and outside of work with great effect… I am noticeably more confident and self-aware since I took part on the course and feel empowered to develop my career in a way that plays to my strengths and embraces change.”

Dr Rachel Cavanagh, British Antarctic Survey

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Research-driven training

The Lab to Leader training programme is shaped by ongoing research that draws on hundreds of interviews and conversations with scientists, as well as the best peer-reviewed science.

We’re particularly interested in understanding and negotiating the apparent contradiction between the traits and competencies shown to be associated with success as a scientist, and those linked to success as a leader.

Through in-depth conversations with scientists and those they manage, we have been able to pinpoint the practical moments when this tension becomes most apparent, and have developed processes, tools and techniques to address these issues head-on.

The result is a course underpinned by a blend of research insight and deep practical knowledge that speaks directly and credibly to scientists’ experiences.

An evidence-led investment in your future success

The need for formal leadership and management training for scientists is clearly established in the social science and business school literature. We’ve compiled a digest of some of the most important findings here.

“Kate has a vast amount of knowledge of leadership development and feedback from workshop participants has been that the quality of facilitation on the leadership development programmes provided both a great experience and a toolkit to take back to and use. Managers and staff have also commented that the skills and knowledge gained from Kate’s coaching has enabled them to get the best out of people, improved their leadership skills and transformed their understanding of Emotional Intelligence and interactions with colleagues.”

 Maggie Brown, Head of HR, The Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre


What delegates will learn

Typical learning outcomes

The content of our leadership training for scientists is adapted to meet the specific needs of your delegates and organisation, but the below list describes a set of typical learning outcomes for the Lab to Leader programme.

The programme will help all delegates achieve:

  • Authentic leadership and a flexible leadership style
  • Confidence to tackle difficult issues with their manager, colleagues or team members
  • Increased emotional intelligence
  • Improved communications
  • Increased presence and positive impact
  • Ability to navigate the political landscape
  • Ability to think more strategically
  • Wider networks and influence
  • Increased confidence and resilience


Personal insights and awareness

One-to-one coaching sessions focus on improving participants’ emotional intelligence and awareness of their own strengths and weaknesses, and how these might impact on those around them and their effectiveness at work.
Through a combination of validated psychometric assessments and coaching conversations we help them to identify and cultivate a personal leadership style that is both effective in terms of team outcomes and true to their personalities and values.

1. Leadership and management skills

1.1 Engagement and Emotional Intelligence

  • Engagement science – understanding engagement of teams and motivating individuals
  • The top 12 predictors of staff engagement
  • The 12 categories and 4 domains of emotional intelligence
  • The link between emotional intelligence and effective leadership
  • Ways to develop self-awareness and emotional intelligence in yourself and your team

1.2 Leading and managing your team

  • Management – what does it mean and how do we do it day to day?
  • Leadership behaviours, skills and knowledge
  • Developing a flexible leadership style
  • Managing up – working productively with your manager and senior colleagues

1.3 Coaching and mentoring your team

  • Setting clear objectives for yourself and your team
  • Giving and receiving effective feedback
  • Coaching models
  • Skills practice
  • Carrying out an effective one-to-one

2. Personal impact and communication

 2.1 Personal impact and influence

  • Circle of control – identifying what you can control and influence, and what you can’t do anything about.
  • Discovering your natural influencing style.
  • Developing a flexible influencing style to increase your impact
  • Adapting your tone and body language to create the impressions you choose.
  • The difference between intention and behaviour.
  • Increasing your visibility

2.2 Communicating and presenting with impact

  • How to present yourself confidently
  • Using your voice to create impact
  • How to ‘fake it till you make it’
  • Delivering clear and impactful messages

2.3 Different types of challenging conversations

  • Different types of tricky conversations and how to manage them
  • Managing challenging attitudes and behaviour
  • Communication skills during challenging conversations

2.4 Handling challenging emotions

  • The role of words, tone and body language
  • Identify your own trigger points and how to manage these
  • How to gain the other person’s attention / buy-in
  • Five communication styles and which ones are used in different situations

2.5 Preparing for your own challenging conversation

  • Questions to consider before you have a challenging conversation
  • Anticipating the other person’s responses and how you’ll respond
  • Optional skills practice using scenarios written for your own organisation

3. Strategy, power, politics and resilience

3.1 Strategy

  • Where would you like to get to, and how are you going to get there?
  • Thinking strategically about your career
  • Planning strategically for yourself and your team
  • Working ‘on the business’ as well as ‘in the business’
  • Seeing the bigger picture

3.2 Widening your influence and network

  • Power and politics
  • Understanding the political landscape and how to influence it
  • Increasing your personal profile at work
  • Building networks, coalitions and support processes
  • Making the most of networking opportunities at conferences etc.

3.3 Developing personal resilience

  • Definition of resilience and wellbeing.
  • How are you resilient? Understanding own resilience through the Cooper/Robertson Questionnaire (completed before the course)
  • Managing your energy throughout the working day and week
  • Responding to change and how this is linked to resilience

3.4 Building Emotional Resilience – Dealing with pressure and overcoming setbacks

  • Reframing and Cognitive Restructuring – identifying thinking patterns to deal with setbacks positively:
    • ABC thinking
    • Multiple perspectives
  • Making the most of your own time – switching off and recharging
  • Mindfulness
  • Developing ‘bounce-back’

Coaching and assessment tools

As well as learning in the classroom, every delegate taking part in one of our leadership training for scientists programmes also receives individual leadership coaching, allowing us to focus in on their specific needs and concerns. As part of this process, we use psychometric and pesonality assessments that help the coachee to understand their strengths and development needs in an objective way.

We usually use Gallup’s respected StrengthsFinder tool, as well as an Emotional Intelligence 360° assessment, but our consultants are qualified in a range of alternatives, including MBTI, Belbin Team Roles and Firo-B amongst others. 

All of our assessments are conducted online, and coaching can be delivered in-person or via video or traditional telephone calls.

“We’ve worked with Cambridge Exec to build our scientists’ project management skills, with a focus on improving communication and collaboration. The training and coaching were carefully tailored to our needs, and were extremely well received by the team. We’ve seen a marked improvement in project communication as a result of the programme, and our scientists have become much more aware of the value of building and maintaining relationships to the success of their projects. Overall, the training has provided a fantastic return on investment, and I am delighted to recommend it to others.”

Craig Mills, CEO, Vizzuality


Virtual, classroom and
coaching-based learning

Lab to Leader can be delivered in two ways, to suit your needs.

For groups of three or more we can deliver the full programme as either traditional classroom or virtual training. This shared experience provides a great opportunity for building a strong support network between the delegates and enables the content to be shaped to the specific needs of your organisation.

For individual delegates the programme can be delivered as one-to-one coaching. Individual coaching provides the same content as the classroom course, but delivered over four two-hour virtual coaching sessions. The big benefit of this approach is that the sessions can be adapted to the specific learning needs of the coachee. 

A team specialising in leadership training for scientists

Lead trainer, Kate Jennings, is a highly experienced and qualified trainer, consultant and coach with a background is in Food Science. For many years she led teams in industry, working with clients such as M&S, Waitrose, Tesco and Sainsbury’s. Building on this experience she has spent 15 years designing and delivering leadership training for scientists at organisations in the UK, Europe and USA, including Cambridge University, British Antarctic Survey and the Royal Society.

Kate Jennings - Cambridge Executive Development

Joanna Markham is an international leadership consultant and trainer whose vast knowledge has been built over a long career spanning academia and business, where she has held several board level posts. Over a twenty-year consulting career, Joanna has worked with some of the world’s biggest companies, training everyone from graduate starters to CEOs at organisations including Citi Bank, University of Derby, Chevrolet, the Ministry of Defence and the BBC.

Joanna Markham - Cambridge Executive Development

Katherine Wiid‘s fascination with what makes us want to do things (and not want to do things) at work grew out of her university studies in Humanities and a successful career in recruitment, marketing and public relations. Since 2001, Katherine has been coaching scientists and other professionals to increase their awareness of their unconscious motivations and understand how they and other people think, feel and communicate, helping to build improved communication and trust. She is just one of a handful of people in the world to master a psycho-linguistic tool, the LAB Profile.

Katherine Wiid - Cambridge Executive Development

For more information

Please get in touch to find our more: 
Call: 0845 2260624

Email: info@cambridgeexec.co.uk