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Module 7: Leading and Managing People in a Research Context


As a future research leader, you have to lead and manage your research team effectively and efficiently. This module focuses on the things a leader needs to do to ensure team members perform at their best. It aims to develop your skills as a leader and manager by discussing how to set clear directions, create norms for respectful and innovative discussion and behaviour, provide a safe work environment, and recognise and reward achievement and efforts. It also focuses on how to cultivate the most productive culture possible for your next research team.
The knowledge gained through this module will help to develop a successful and productive work environment. It will also be of assistance in managing your research funds in an economical way. Between 60 and 80 percent of a project’s financial resources are directly invested through salaries and on-costs and indirectly through recruitment and development costs. Good leadership and effective communication is needed to inspire the best use of staff talents. Good people management is also good financial management.

Research projects require a tailored approach to people management. This module builds on the recruitment approach in Module 2: Start-up and Collaboration – Putting Ideas Into Practice to identify effective approaches to leading and managing members of a research team.


Module 7 aims to assist researchers develop their preferred leadership style; it also aims to educate researchers about how to create an effective research environment while managing the issues that arise from the typical research context of fixed-term employment and short time-frames.

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module you should be able to:

  • identify the characteristics of an environment in which research teams flourish
  • understand the relevance of different leadership styles in a research context and the stages in team development
  • implement key characteristics of effective communication, negotiation skills, and team management
  • understand your responsibilities in creating a safe equitable workplace for the team
  • provide tools and skills for researchers to plan and monitor activities and meet the requirements of the research plan.
Content overview

The module comprises the following topics:

  1. Research Leadership
    This topic explores leadership behaviours and the ideal research culture.
  2. Leadership and Management Styles
    This topic explores leadership styles, the nature of the research team, and the environment you should cultivate to ensure success.
  3. Leading Teams
    This topic deals with setting standards and the importance of developing interpersonal and communication processes.
  4. Managing People
    This section focuses on motivating, guiding, and developing the individuals working on your project.
Workshop details

To complete this module, you must attend the corresponding workshop.
This module comprises online learning material and a workshop.
You are expected to devote time to reading the online material and carrying out compulsory activities before attending the workshop.  This module should take less than 3.5 hours to read and you may need to devote up to another 1.5 hours to carry out the compulsory activities. (Please note you can complete the conversation with an experienced researcher following the workshop.)
The workshop assumes you have completed the reading and carried out the compulsory activities.
Requirements for completion of Module 7:

  1. Complete the pre-course reading, including the Safeguarding: the Murray–Darling Basin case study.
  2. Read through the module and complete all activities.
  3. Arrange to have a guided conversation with an experienced researcher in your unit/area/faculty and get them to sign off on the ‘record of completion’ form (included with this manual). This can be done before or after the workshop.
  4. Attend the whole day face-to-face workshop (check details on your confirmation email). Bring this manual to the face-to-face workshop.
  5. Complete the post-course evaluation.

Principal writers

Michael Pooley, Learning Solutions, University of Sydney

Professor Vernon Ireland, University of Adelaide

Anama Morriss, University of Adelaide

With contributions by

Ann Goldwater, Australian National University

Maree Magafas, University of New South Wales

Jane Knipe, University of Adelaide

Professor Shelda Debowski, University of Western Australia

Educational developers

Bill Potter, Monash University

Associate Professor Len Webster, Monash University

Web developer

Rob Andrew, Monash University

Jane Liang, Group of Eight

Project management

Group of Eight Future Research Leaders Program

Accessing the module material

Now that you have read the module introduction you can access and navigate your way through the module content via the Module 7 Organiser link in the navigation bar at the top left of this page or in the bar below.

If you wish to print this page you can generate a pdf file via this printer icon [ ]. A pdf file for each topic in this module can be generated using the printer icon to the left of each topic title on the Organiser page.

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