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Ask Linda: Moving Up The Ladder

Many outstanding scientists or engineers have failed as lab managers because they lacked the right attitude

by Lab Manager
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Dear Linda, 

I have recently been promoted to lab manager at the facility where I have worked the past three years. I am excited to take on the expanded management responsibilities that come with the title, but am not sure what is required in order to best do the job and, more importantly, prepare myself for career opportunities down the line. While I’m confident in my scientific and technical abilities, this new role is one for which I have neither a role model nor a roadmap. 

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Any suggestions? 

Thanks in advance. 


Dear Mark,

While technical ability is essential to becoming a successful laboratory manager, it is not sufficient. Many outstanding scientists or engineers have failed as lab managers because they lacked the right attitude.

Below are 10 attitudes you will need in order to be successful.

  1. Believe that you are in charge of your destiny. This means taking charge and making good things happen, not waiting for them to happen to you.
  2. Successful managers have positive attitudes. Having a positive attitude motivates your staff members, improving both productivity and morale.
  3. Do everything well. Attention to detail can be critical to achieving project success that leads to career success.
  4. Networking is essential. Networking can provide a motherlode of useful advice. Successful networking is essential to career advancement.
  5. Find reasons to enjoy your job. Finding reasons to enjoy your job improves your disposition and promotes an optimistic attitude.
  6. Ask “What else can I do?” Look for ways to enhance the chances of success on your projects. Don’t do their work for them, but help make your staff members’ jobs easier.
  7. Learn from your mistakes. No one succeeds 100 percent of the time. Analyze situations when you did not succeed or did not accomplish as much as you might have. Your analysis will help you avoid repeating your mistakes.
  8. Promote yourself and your accomplishments. Don’t be obnoxious, but do talk about your successes. Observe successful colleagues to learn how some do this without sounding boastful.
  9. Seek out opportunities to succeed. Stay alert for opportunities to advance your career and to succeed in your current projects.
  10. Learn new skills. Learn new management and leadership skills and apply them to achieve success in your new management position.

No one is born with these attitudes, but they can all be learned.

Good luck.


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