To be an effective leader, I have to be a good follower.
Shriradha Geigerman served as a Leadership Fellow (Team Coach) for the Leading Edge program during the 2014-2015 school year. She is a graduate student of the Cognition and Brain Sciences PhD program (housed within the School of Psychology) and is working as a researcher in the ReCALL lab, which stands for Research on Cognition in Adulthood and Late Life. We were pleased to find out that Shriradha has been able to incorporate her team coaching experience with her undergraduate students in the lab. Here is her story from this summer:
1. Where are you this summer and what are you doing (ex: studying abroad, internship, teaching, summer classes, FASET leader, etc)? Please describe your context and why you chose this path for the summer.
This summer, I am helping coach undergraduate research assistants in a Psychology and Neuroscience research lab on campus. We, along with Dr. Paul Verhaeghen, are researching how memory changes with healthy aging. We study changes brain waves and behaviors of younger (18-30 year olds) and older (60-80 year olds) adults as they participate in learning and memory tasks in the laboratory. In a few years, I see myself establishing my own lab in an academic setting. This experience gives me the skills and tools I need to be successful in my future career.
2. What are some ways that leadership plays a role in what you are doing this summer?
Leadership is key to what I am doing this summer. I have to make sure that the undergraduate research assistants have a role model for day-to-day behavior in a work setting. I also strive to create an open environment where the student researchers have an academically rich summer experience. Our three goals are 1) acquiring new skills, such as working on electrophysiology data, statistical analysis, and designing research experiments, 2) gaining an insight into how a research project develops from inception of an idea to writing up the results, and 3) growing as an effective, contributing, and well-adjusted team member within a research organization.
3. In what way are you/were you involved with Georgia Tech Leadership Education and Development (LEAD)? And how has your LEAD involvement helped you with your summer leadership experience? In other words, were there valuable insights gained or lessons learned from your LEAD involvement that have been useful to you this summer?
I was a team coach last academic year within Leading Edge. Two key things that I took away from that experience and apply every day are 1) learning how any organization we lead is a reflection of the leader (e.g., I cannot expect student researchers to meet deadlines if I don't meet them) and 2) to be an effective leader, I have to be a good follower (e.g., when a student is excited about a project, and has an idea, it is extremely important to listen and follow along, and make room for him to lead the conversation).
4. What has been the most rewarding part of your summer? What has been the most challenging?
The most rewarding part of my summer has been working with a team of bright, talented undergraduate researchers and watching them become more advanced scientists in comparison to where they started at the beginning of summer. The most challenging part has been making sure that every student researcher, in spite of their diverse interests and skill levels, do not develop and settle into a hierarchical organizational structure within our subgroup.
5. What do you know now that you didn’t know before you ventured into your summer leadership experience?
Simply put, I did not know that being a good leader in a group can impact productivity and positivity in a manner I have seen this summer. I had always heard about it, but it has been really cool to see and experience how striving to be a good leader can impact my workplace positively!