During the last couple of months, Natalia Blagoeva led workshops for researchers in Leadership and Entrepreneurship, as well as Multi-cultural Diversity in:
- Ljubljana- Slovenia
- Sofia- Bulgaria
- Târgoviște – Romania
- Warsaw- Poland.
These projects were within the PIPERS project of EURAXESS network lead by British Council and with the support of the following partner organizations: Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, and Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) of the Spanish Government, Durham University from the UK, Centre for Research and Technology Hellas from Greece, and Sofia University from Bulgaria. See the video for more information on the project.
We asked Natalia a few questions:
TGIM: Why were these workshops important? Why should researchers study leadership and entrepreneurship as part of their career development?
I would start first by saying that I consider training in career management and personal development, as well as entrepreneurship and leadership, crucial for the future of any researcher. Europe is investing considerable money to increase the number of researchers and then the majority of them have to go back to industry and strengthen the capacity of Europe’s economy to deal with 21st Century challenges.
However, I see over and over again that the majority of researchers have never been to any personal development or soft skills training until the moment they meet with us. That relates to basic personal development courses such as communications training, time management, and project management, but also more profound knowledge related to developing their emotional and spiritual intelligence. I consider that detrimental not only to the researchers but to all of us as a society because highly intelligent and skillful people lack the skills (or have the perception that they lack the skills) to realize themselves as professionals and bring value back to society. In that regard, the work done with projects such as this one is groundbreaking and very meaningful for all stakeholders, as well as society at large.
TGIM: What kind of training did you do?
The Leadership Workshop I did opens people’s understanding to what leadership is all about and emphasizes that this is not a skill for selected few but rather a skill we all need if we want to realize ourselves, flourish, and prosper. As a Certified Consultant with the Barrett Values Centre, I use the CTT methodology to enable each participant to self-identify where on the development journey they are, and open their perspectives to what holds them back, as well as how they could nurture their further development as a leader. Most important, at the end of the workshop, people understand what leadership is about and are motivated to support their own growth.
The Entrepreneurship Workhop had the objective to clarify for participants what entrepreneurship is all about, open their perspectives that this is something that is relevant for them, open their understanding of how a business process goes, and inspire them that a great entrepreneur is not that different from a great leader, and a great researcher. An important part of that is realizing that whatever we decide to with our lives, the most important is to be connected to our inner purpose, with our “why”. Once we do that, we become much more flexible on whether we realize ourselves in academia, business, or public service. Much more important is why we do what we do and how we do it. At the end of the workshop, researchers removed some of the blockages they had and were more motivated to develop their entreprenuership skills.
The Multicultural Diversity Workhop had the objective to improve the abilities of researchers to effectively work and flourish in multiculturally diverse environments. In specific, I used a Values-based approach to enhancing multi-cultural intelligence and also I build upon previous workshops and research in the field of multicultural challenges and competences of researchers. At the end of the workshop, participants advanced their understanding of what is at the foundation of their personal flourishing and prosperity, advanced their understanding of what is at the foundation of cultural differences and the challenges associated with multicultural diversity, became more aware of why they and/or other people act or react the way they do in situations of diversity, explored alternative approaches to decision making and got motivated to work towards enhancing their cultural intelligence.
TGIM: Do you have any other impressions or recommendations?
Based on the reactions during the training, as well as what participants tell me afterwards, I believe that the trainings were very well received by participants and had a significant impact on them. According to me, the biggest impact on them was the fact that for a first time in their lives they were attending learning experience focused on issues related to their values, and purpose in life. Also very impactful for them was that many of them were participating for a first time in participatory and experiential learning, as opposed to lectures.
My recommendation is that any such trainings are focused on developing the emotional, spiritual, and cultural intelligence of researchers rather than their analytical intelligence/ rationality, since as a rule they are much more developed on the latter. That in general is often the case with people in business as well- for years we counted on the rational aspects and left out the emotional, cultural and spiritual, and we focused on the masculine aspects as opposed to the feminine.