Before coming to MIT, Benjamin Lienhard focused most of his energy exploring fragile quantum states, dwelling in the world of nanotechnology and filling in gaps in the research to help steer and stabilize new technologies. Now that he’s a fifth-year graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science, he’s still investigating tiny quantum bits, looking for novel ways to support enormous breakthroughs in quantum computing.
But for all his advanced technical knowledge and forward-thinking momentum, Lienhard found himself suddenly in a tenuous state in 2017. Asked to coordinate a conference, he realized developing leadership skills was an aspect of his work that he’d overlooked through all those years investigating quantum states at exceptionally small scales.
Not wanting to miss an opportunity, Lienhard accepted the conference role and other leadership roles like it, and each time he agreed to step in to lead, he arrived at the same uneasy conclusion. “I really noticed the only way to improve yourself and learn [leadership] is by actually experiencing it, executing it yourself and seeing how the people around you react to your leadership style,” Lienhard says. A background in theoretical leadership skills could’ve made that transition smoother, recognizing new situations on the job to adjust at a faster pace.
Source: “A new way to prepare graduate students to lead in tech”, School of Engineering, MIT News Office