Leadership - Swedish style

In early October I met with a group of 23 mid-career scientists in various disciplines visiting the U.S. from Sweden. They were all recipients of research awards from an organization called the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research. It’s kind of like a Swedish Howard Hughes Foundation  – five years of significant funding.  But there’s a twist. The twist is that over the course of their five year funding, the awardees are expected to get training in leadership and management in the broadest senses.  This  is a requirement for receiving the research money. Quite amazing.  

This particular group was completing a swing along the East Coast (National Academy of Sciences and NSF in Washington; Rockefeller University and Cornell Medical Center in NY, Broad in Cambridge) and they asked me to have dinner with them and to talk broadly about  leading  and managing scientific enterprises.  Between bites of chicken and sips of wine we had quite an engaging conversation.   

What a role model this Swish organization is for us here in the U.S.  I’m beginning to see changes here, but slowly.  For example, I’m in the midst of running management workshops for senior group leaders in the NIH intramural research program and guess what? It’s a requirement for them to get such training every year. So why do they require it for their intramural team leaders but not for extramural grant recipients who get the lion’s share of NH funding??

Carl M. Cohen