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.

science leadership training

Leadership & management

Emotionally intelligent leadership is a learnable skill, and there are many tools, techniques and processes that you can use to help you get the best from those you manage.

Personal impact & comms

The importance of soft skills is often underestimated in scientific environments, but great communication is vital to maximising your influence and visibility as a leader.

Strategy, politics & resilience

Long-term vision, negotiating relationships and power, and coping with setbacks are vital skills for advancing your science and the interests of your team.

A focus 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 challenges are common across sectors, but are especially acute in scientific contexts. This is partly as a result of the kinds of personalities 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.

"The feedback from the attendees was incredibly positive: Excellent and delivered at a good pace; good amount of interaction with others; gives you an opportunity to ‘think’ which rarely happens at work; valuable and very helpful with future career development; helps you understand where you are now and gives you the tools to step up"
Mariella Giancola, Head of HR
British Antarctic Survey

Programme content

Key learning outcomes

  • Develop an authentic but flexible leadership style
  • Build skills and confidence to tackle difficult issues with their manager, colleagues or team members
  • Increase emotional intelligence
  • Improve communication skills
  • Increase presence and positive impact
  • Boost ability to navigate the political landscape
  • Develop ability to think more strategically
  • Build and maintain wider networks and influence
  • Increase resilience and capacity to cope with setbacks

Typical programme content

The standard Lab to Leader programme is split into three parts. These can be delivered as three classroom days, or as six shorter virtual modules.

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 training, the Lab to Leader programme can also include psychometrics and one-to-one coaching sessions to provide more personalised insights as well as opportunities to develop self-awareness and collaboration skills.

We use a range of psychometrics and personality assessments to help learners understand their strengths, style and development needs in an objective way.

Gallup’s respected CliftonStrengths® tool is a popular option, as well as an Emotional Intelligence 360° assessment, but our consultants are qualified in delivering and coaching on a range of tools, including MBTI, Belbin Team Roles, DISC and Firo-B amongst others.

Evidence-led 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.

“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 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.”
Craig Mills, CEO

Delivery formats

Lab to Leader can be delivered as virtual or classroom training, and as a one-to-one coaching programme for individual learners.

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. 

Our track record

The Lab to Leader programme evolved out of over twenty years working with scientific organisations in the Cambridge STEM Cluster, as well as with companies, universities, government bodies and NGOs across the UK and beyond.


Over that period, our consultants have trained thousands of people, equipping a new generation of science leaders with the skills and confidence they need to help transform the world through science. 

Some of our clients are displayed below.

Get in touch

Find out more or get a quote

The Lab to Leader programme can be delivered as classroom training at your lab or office in the UK, or live online as virtual training worldwide.

For an idea of pricing or to arrange a call with one of our consultants to discuss the programme in more detail, please get in touch with some basic information:

  • A rough idea of how many participants need the training
  • Whether you want the training delivered at your premises or virtually
  • The leadership experience levels of potential participants 

Contact us via:


+44 (0)845 2260624