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Inspirational leadership: Anthony Mathelier

MED-nytt presents leaders who go the extra distance. The secret behind good interaction and team building in a research group.

Group leader: Anthony Mathelier. Foto: UiO

MED-news has heard many good words about how you as a leader work actively to make your research group work well together. I would like to hear a little about what you do in your group that may inspire other groups who are interested in working with their work environment.


"Can you tell us a little about how and why you work with the good interaction and team building (work environment) in your group? What does it take to make a group work well? And can you share examples of «best team-building practice/ worst practice?"

"Caring about the people you work with and providing them with a good work environment should be top priorities everywhere. Indeed, it is clear that people are better at their job if they are happy at work and excited about what they do. When building a research group, I believe it is important that people feel they are part of a team with a common goal. One way to achieve this is to lay out how each member can contribute to the common goal through their respective projects, which are complementary to each other. The worst would be to have people working exclusively on non-overlapping projects or competing on the same project."

"I also strongly recommend to have common projects where multiple group members are collaborating together. It creates a strong team spirit that will be beneficial for the whole group. Finally, I strongly believe that better science is obtained when a research team is composed of diverse people, for instance with different academic and cultural backgrounds. Indeed, everyone comes with their own perspective and the addition of all these perspectives can only be better for science. As a PI, one of the greatest experience I have is to witness my team members engaging in scientific discussions contributing to their respective projects and to see them supporting each other inside and outside the lab."


"Do you think that it can contribute to better research results if the research group has a good interaction?"

"There is no doubt that good interactions between members of a research group contributes to better research. It is my opinion that if the team members are excited about the science, are provided with a good work environment, and have a supportive and collaborative team, then good science is very likely to follow. We know that we more often face failures than successes in science, so it is of utmost importance to have a team around you to support and help you in the difficult moments and to celebrate in the good ones!"


"What kind of special challenges have you encountered in terms of group dynamics?"

"A potential challenge lies in being able to provide a good setting for each individual that does not compromise how the group works as a whole."

"In the pandemic, it may have been diffMathelier Grouperent than before?"

"The pandemic made it more difficult to keep up with the interactions. To circumvent  this, we encouraged to have more (online) meetings than we usually had; we also introduced some online coffee/tea meetings to catch up on other things than science. In addition, we extensively used Slack to allow for group interactions via short messages."


"What are your expectations for working with the results from the ARK survey?"

"I see the ARK survey as a mean to trigger discussions within the group on what is working well, should be kept as is, and what can be improved. But this is something that the group tries to do on a regular basis; it would be very bad and sad if one needs such a survey to discuss the work environment. Moreover, I expect that the outcome of the survey will also be considered at higher scales than research groups as it is important that faculties and the university as a whole reflect on how to provide researchers and admin with a good and supportive work environment".


"Not everyone was included in the ARK survey for various reasons and there were also some who did not respond. How do you intend to include more people in the follow-up of the answers to the survey?"

"We should use the results of the ARK survey to include everyone working with us in the discussion. To include everyone and allow them to speak, we should provide a safe space so they are able to voice their opinions with details that go beyond what was asked in the survey. Hopefully, it will empower more people to raise work-related issues so that we can all provide an optimal environment for the scientific and admin staff to achieve their career goals".

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By Silje M. Kile Rosseland
Published Apr. 6, 2022 7:10 AM - Last modified Apr. 22, 2022 11:41 AM