Leadership Development for Researchers

If you are a faculty member starting out in your research career, you are in charge of leading a team that will drive one of the most critically important professional enterprises of your life. Leading this group successfully will depend not only on the outstanding scientific skills you have honed, but it will also require a host of other skills. You will need to effectively manage a talented group of people, pilot successful collaborations within and outside of your group, deftly navigate the complexities of the institution, adeptly manage the inevitable conflicts that arise in a high stakes environment, tackle the challenges of running a small business, and inspire others to do their best so that your scientific vision is realized. 

If you want to learn to meet these challenges with more confidence, consider applying for the Duke LEADER program.

This interactive 3-part workshop is designed for junior faculty who are leading a research group. It will provide insight into leadership and team building as well as direction on how to develop and manage a scientific laboratory or research program, how to improve productivity, and how to harness creativity and innovation. It will provide tools to use in navigating conflict with confidence. This course provides a unique opportunity to work with a diverse and multidisciplinary group of faculty and to network with other researchers from across the university.

Applications for LEADER 2021 will open in the fall of 2020.

Program Overview

Course Goals

  • Develop skills to lead effective and successful scientific laboratories or research programs. 
  • Promote collaboration with peers, senior investigators, and research staff.
  • Foster innovation and teamwork.
  • Discover and develop leadership skills to increase personal and team productivity.
  • Learn to manage conflict with confidence.

Course Format and Tools

This three-part course will consist of individual and group exercises as well as lectures and discussions designed for junior investigators.  Leadership experts from outside Duke will provide much of the course content. 
Participants will be required to complete two personal inventory assessments online prior to the course:  a personality based assessment and the Skillscope 360° Assessment (360). These tools provide an opportunity to receive constructive feedback that is strictly developmental, not evaluative.

The 360 will require completion by you AND by members of your team. You will be asked to complete an online self-assessment and to solicit a minimum of five other individuals to complete a comparable questionnaire about you. We will recommend that you ask people who you know well and whose feedback you cannot lightly dismiss to be your raters. You will be encouraged to ask a mix of superiors, peers, direct reports and others, as well as your direct supervisor. You will be provided with a confidential analysis of this rich feedback during the course, and will use it to understand how others view your job-related strengths and weaknesses, and to compare these with your self-perceptions. The tool is meant to provide non-judgmental insight about your leadership. This feedback, combined with the course content, should enable you to craft an effective plan to acquire the skills and experience needed to reach your goals.

More information about these tools will be given upon course acceptance.
Significant time will also be devoted to discussions and exercises around conflict management and difficult conversations. Participants will discuss case studies and will practice coaching in conflict scenarios. 

Click here for an sample agenda


The LEADER program is a highly interactive 3-part course that includes lectures, small group discussions, group exercises, and personal reflection. Much of the course content is delivered by leadership experts from outside of Duke. These instructors have extensive experience working within academics and have received high marks from past program participants. The bios below are for the core group of course instructors. Participants will also have the opportunity to interact with senior faculty researchers from within the Duke community. 

Hile Rutledge, MSOD
Chief Executive Officer, Otto Kroeger Associates
View Bio

Cathie Siders, PhD
Executive Coach and Organizational Consultant
View Bio


Stephen Bogdewic, PhD

Executive Vice Dean, Indiana University, School of Medicine

View Bio


Participation in the LEADER program costs $1,500. Applicants must provide information about who will support their tuition costs at the time of application. Tuition payments must be made via departmental charge (no checks or credits cards). This one-time payment covers all aspects of course participation, including administration of the personality based assessment and 360, meals during the course, parking, and inclusion in follow-up alumni programs at no additional charge. If tuition is a hardship that will prevent you from participating please contact jessica.womack@duke.edu to discuss whether a scholarship might be available.

Eligibility and Selection Criteria 

All junior faculty researchers are eligible to apply. Applications from faculty who have identified research as the principal focus of their career will be most competitive. Applicants must have the support of their department chairs in order to participate. A selection committee composed of senior Duke faculty will select the class of participants based on the following criteria:

  • Junior faculty beginning a career directing a scientific laboratory or research program.

  • Clear commitment to a research career.
  • Strength of personal statement in defining why the applicant wants to attend the course and why the applicant should be selected.
  • Commitment to attend the entire course.
  • Letter of nomination from Department Chair, Division Chief, Institute or Center Director stating a commitment to the applicant’s career and support for the applicant to attend the entire course, the letter must also note who will cover tuition the costs.

All components of the application should be completed prior to the deadline. No components will be accepted after the deadline.

Application Details

Applications for the spring 2020 program are open. Interested applicants should discuss their potential participation with their supervisor (Department Chair, Division Chief, Institute or Center Director) in advance of their application to ensure their willingness to provide the required letter of support. Understanding that a three-day time commitment is significant for a junior investigator, this discussion should acknowledge and confirm the requirement that, if accepted, the participants must attend the entire course. This conversation should also include a discussion of who will pay the required tuition costs if the applicant is accepted.  Admission to the course will be determined on a competitive basis. Please have the following ready to upload before you begin filling out the application. You will NOT be able to save the application and return to it later.

  • 200-word essay describing why you should be selected to participate in the course
  • NIH Biosketch or CV if you do not have an NIH Biosketch
  • Letter of nomination from Department Chair, Division Chief, or Center/Institute Director
  • The name and e-mail address of the person who will provide your tuition payment 

Click here to apply

Important Dates

Applications Open: Mid- September 2019
Applications Due: November 1, 2019
Notification of Acceptance: Late December 2019
Accepted Applicant Meetings: 

Accepted Applicant Meetings: (faculty accepted to the program must attend one of these two meetings)

  • Thursday, February 6, 12:00-1:00pm, Location TBD
  • Friday, February 7, 7:30-8:30am, Location TBD

Personality Assessment and 360 Due: 

  • Personality based assessment - February 21, 2020
  • 360 - March 20, 2020

Course dates:

  • March 10, 8:00am-5:00pm, Great Hall, Trent Semans Center       
  • April 21 and 22, 8:00am-5:00pm, Hamner Conference Center, RTP
  • June 1-5, optional but recommended follow up coaching sessions in Duke South. Participants will register for one, 30-minute coaching session.




What Alumni Are Saying

Still have Questions? Contact facdev@dm.duke.edu or (919) 684-4139