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Leadership skills for professionals


The so-called 'soft skills' can often be really hard. Senior academics, partners in law firms and medical consultants will have high intelligence and years of specialist training, but when moving into leadership roles they will also need to develop emotional intelligence. A successful medical academic in a leading London research institute had been approached about the possibility of applying for a Professorial appointment at another institution. His supervisor told him that he needed to develop his interpersonal skills and his personal network to be successful in his application.

Programme and method

The client approached Oxford Executive for a Leadership Development programme aimed at helping him obtain a Professorship. A programme of three coaching sessions was agreed. At the first session it became apparent that the client was very committed to taking his career forward, both because of the opportunity to significantly develop his research work and for personal advancement. However he was unsure of his suitability for the new post and reluctant to take on the networking required to apply successfully.

In discussion it became apparent that beliefs, perhaps coming from his family background, relating to the relative importance of academic and other abilities and the hierarchy within academia were undermining his confidence. There was significant objective evidence, eg from success in obtaining research grants and delivering research work, that the client was a very successful academic, who also brought important leadership, influencing and administrative skills to his work. Simply bringing the old beliefs and the contrary evidence into consciousness produced an important change in the client. In further sessions he worked on developing his influencing skills and in preparing for the interview.


The client found the insights from the first session profound. He was successful in his application for a Professorship at one of the leading academic institutions in his field in the UK.

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