January 6, 2011
Female Science Professor has an interesting post up in which she muses about how professorial management styles that might, on the surface, seem less “nurturing” to trainees frequently end up doing a better job at actual nurturing of the careers of those trainees.
It is important not to conflate a management style that nurtures the professional development of trainees with a management style that nurtures the personal development of trainees. As professors, our job is to nurture our trainees professionally. If they need personal nurturing, it is not my job to provide it, nor am I qualified to do so.
In my experience, the most dysfunctional labs are those in which the PI behaves like a cheerleader/friend/confessor hybrid, and the most functional labs are those in which the PI behaves like an NFL head coach.