Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Taking the Lead

As I may have mentioned before, my lab is starting a new project called Ufac II which I will be heavily involved in. At the moment, this project comprises three students including myself. There is the potential for a couple or few more to join us.

We had our first official meeting last week, with the professor and research scientist who will be leading/advising the project. During this first meeting, we students were told to come up with a list of tasks involved in the project, and a timeline for completing them. A Gantt chart, essentially, for those who recognize this word.

So I waited four days or so, and I heard not a peep from the other two students. One of the other students said she was interested in taking the lead in organizing the logistics for this project, so I was going to let her do so. But after four days, I sent out an email suggesting we meet to get the Gantt chart ready before our next meeting with our advisors.

So I got back responses that said, "sure!". And I thought, gees, this is like pulling teeth. How about somebody suggesting a time? So I went ahead and found a time that worked for everybody, and when the day came around we all gathered around the whiteboard. And neither one of the other two said anything. It got a little awkward, so I started the discussion and asked questions and basically we reviewed the high-level tasks and broke them down into responsibilities which we divvied up amongst ourselves. No schedule or chart, though.

I waited another week and still heard nothing from the other two students. So I finally sent out an email and said we should meet Wednesday, today, because we needed to have this thing done before our meeting Thursday.

We shall see how it goes this afternoon.

In undergrad, there was this unspoken law. When a class had a group project during the term, the groups were either self-formed by the students or assigned by the teacher. Either way, the law was that the first person to send an e-mail coordinating logistics of the first group meeting was the defacto group leader. Never failed. The person who cared the most and had natural leadership tendencies would get antsy from not hearing anything, send out an email, and boom - leader of the group.

I was trying really hard not to do that here, because the other girl said she'd be interested in heading this project. Besides, everybody at this school has leadership tendencies, not just me. I really would rather have somebody else take the lead, that way I can just contribute my ideas and work and not have to handle logistics. In a final twist, however, I am really good at logistics and keeping on top of people, and I have the most experience out of the three of us.

So do I look like I'm steamrolling the other two students if I take the lead? Or is that then their own fault for not stepping up to the plate?

We'll find out this afternoon. I'm going to keep quiet as long as I can in the meeting, but if I end up with a pile of teeth at the end, I'm sayin' I resisted as long as I could.


  1. Well, if they want to be the leader but have no idea how to do it it looks like you might have to step up for it. Good luck.

    Ufac. It just sounds so... dirty :P

  2. It's their fault, unequivocally. If they say "I wanna be the leader" but then don't follow up on that when given the opportunity to do so, then they lose. The last project I was involved in I actively tried not to become the leader by letting someone else organize times and files, but it still happened and she became second-in-command. I guess that those who don't have the patience for waffling are doomed to lead.