Making a Good Fit

It’s no secret that teamwork is essential for success. But what does putting together a great team actually look like? Bottom line – it’s about finding a good fit.  Let’s drill down a bit and use my position as an example.

I am responsible for education, funding and research development at The Ohio State University. Now, let’s say a funding opportunity for research pops up. We distribute this opportunity to all of the appropriate disciplines and initially act as a “connector” to build a team with a high likelihood of success. Sometimes we are viewed as the “surrogate” principal investigator or “PI” for short. A PI is typically a faculty member or research staff member and is the holder of an independent grant that is administered by the university.

As administrators, we’ll help guide and shape the initial team until the lead researcher (or PI) steps forward and commits to serving as team leader. Now, you want to build the strongest team possible, which requires assessing individuals research capabilities, expertise and ability to compliment the other team members. Leaders create these teams by delegating responsibilities and recognizing both the strengths and limitations of every individual.

My work is grounded in the practice of research development and directly relates to what’s called “team science.”

The term refers to a collaborative effort to address a task that leverages the strengths and expertise of professionals from interdisciplinary fields. You don’t want everybody to have the same skillset. Each contributor is like a puzzle piece that fits well with the connecting pieces.

Each project has a variety of moving parts and each team member has to rely on the others for their knowledge in their particular area. Team science can be successful or ultimately unsuccessful based on trust, commitment, communication, data sharing and incentives/policies of the organization.

Other factors include how the team processes things like feedback and reflection, interpersonal dynamics and everyone’s ability to be collaborative. We have many success stories of impactful research projects born out of team science and across many disciplines. We have enjoyed unique collaborations from fields as diverse as law and public health or computer science and art.

Good leaders guide others. We try and model that for investigators and grant recipients. For us, it’s more of a consultative approach. It’s a combination of listening to the individuals with research ideas and identifying if that idea fits with the particular funding opportunity. We provide advice, consultation and recommendations for alternatives if the idea isn’t a good fit with the funding opportunity.

Once again, it goes back to the same idea. We want to make sure the funding and research are a good fit. And we need to make sure the team members delving into the work itself are all a good fit.

Because if the pieces don’t connect well, you ultimately won’t have success. Take a look at your team and see if you have good fits. It will make all the difference in the world.

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Here at Lead Read Today, we endeavor to take an objective (rational, scientific) approach to analyzing leaders and leadership. All opinion pieces will be reviewed for appropriateness, and the opinions shared are solely of the author and not representative of The Ohio State University or any of its affiliates.