Janine Bosak is an Associate Professor in Organisational Psychology and Director of Research of the Leadership and Talent Institute (LTI) at Dublin City University. She also manages the DCU Business School doctoral programme as Director of Doctoral Studies and currently serves as Executive Committee Member of the European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology (EAWOP). Prior to joining DCU as a lecturer in 2009, she was a Postdoctoral Researcher and Lecturer in Psychology at the Universities of Bern and Fribourg in Switzerland. Janine was also a visiting Research Fellow at Boston University/USA in 2015, a James M. Flaherty Visiting Professor at HEC Montreal/Canada in 2016, and she is currently a Visiting Professor at the Capital University of Economics and Business in Beijing/China.
Janine conducts research, teaches, and consults in the areas of “Women and Leadership” and “Employee Wellbeing in Organizations”. Her research has attracted numerous awards including, for example, the James M. Flaherty Visiting Professor Award, a National Young Scientist Research Award, and an Emerald/IACMR Award. Janine’s work has been published in high-impact peer-reviewed international journals including Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, the British Journal of Management, the British Journal of Social Psychology, Human Resource Management (US), Human Resource Management Journal, and the International Journal of Human Resource Management. Janine is also a certified and trained coach who advances the systemic and solution-focused approach to coaching.
Can leadership be taught? If so, how?
Some individuals more so than others are natural leaders. Charisma, leadership presence, and the ability to inspire others and make them go the extra mile for the organisation comes easy to them and does not require any effort or learning. These individuals naturally seek out opportunities to lead early on and aspire to leadership roles in their professional life. Other individuals might discover their interest in leadership roles later in time or the circumstances dictate that they act as leaders. These individuals might need to work harder to acquire leadership skills. In short – can leadership be taught? The answer is yes. Evidence from experimental studies carried out at HEC Lausanne by Antonakis and colleagues for example showed that charismatic leadership can be taught and that it affects leadership effectiveness ratings (see https://serval.unil.ch/resource/serval:BIB_FDC9DF7BA052.P001/REF). So, the good news is that evidence-based (!) interventions to teach leadership are fruitful.
If you had to leave your organisation for 1 year what would you ask of your team and what advice would you give them?
I strongly believe in empowering people who have the right skills set and attitude to do the job. The people that I work with in my working environment are of such calibre. Therefore, I would fully trust my team to perform well in my absence and to strive for excellence. At the time I would also signal to my team that I am always available to talk to in case any questions or issues do arise and hope that my team would welcome me back warmly upon my return.
What are you doing today to make sure your organisation will be relevant in 10 years time?
At the university we nurture key ingredients for creativity and innovation: seeking new ideas, promoting discovery, acquiring and disseminating new knowledge, and finding solutions to problems by carrying out research across all fields of knowledge. DCU strives to address the challenges of today and tomorrow and engages with communities, organisations, and the wider society to ensure that we do not only transform the lives of those who will go through our doors but also, through them and through our innovation, transform society as a whole. I love being a leading part of this important process in my role as researcher, educator, and research director of the Leadership and Talent Institute (LTI) at Dublin City University.
What leaders outside your own organisation do you admire and why?
The person who I absolutely admire is Professor Alice Eagly at Northwestern University. Her research on gender stereotypes and gender dynamics in organisational settings, especially with respect to women leaders, has significantly advanced our thinking in the field of social-organisational psychology and bears huge implications for women and men in organisations. In addition to her various scholarly and public recognitions, she is the most authentic and caring leader who acts as a wonderful mentor to early career researchers and helps them develop and flourish. I could not wish for a better role model.
If you could wind back the clock to when you were starting your career what advice would you give yourself?
Be more confident, trust your abilities, and seize opportunities for leadership – act like a leader before you are one. Do not wait for others to recognise your excellent performance but communicate your achievements and your appetite for challenging assignments and leadership roles…and you will get there. Finally, take good care of your relationships at work and family life – ultimately, these predict true happiness and satisfaction as the Harvard study on adult development shows.
What are a few resources (books, blogs, podcasts, courses etc) you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader?
First of all, I would recommend getting in touch with my colleagues and me from the Leadership and Talent Institute (LTI) at Dublin City University. We have widely researched, taught, and consulted on the topic of leadership for years and are experts in the area. We deliver leadership courses and executive education to various companies in both the for-profit and non-profit sector. We also host a fantastic Distinguished Speaker Series jointly with The Irish Times in which leading scholars in the field of Leadership and Talent share their research with HR professionals, business leaders, and those aspiring to leadership – a wonderful event for learning, networking, and getting the most recent evidence-based insights.
Second, for women who aspire to leadership I would recommend taking a look at some of the articles that I have published on this topic. They are listed on my website (http://business.dcu.ie/our-people/Dr-Janine-Bosak) and are free to access via DCU Doras. Some of my research was carried out together with my mentor Alice Eagly, Professor in Psychology at Northwestern University. Alice is the leading scholar in the field of women and leadership. For a very accessible read (which is yet evidence-based) I would strongly recommend Alice’s book entitled “Through the labyrinth: The truth about how women become leaders”, which she co-authored with Linda Carli. This book is a fantastic resource and helps women to understand the unique challenges and barriers that they face in leadership roles and how to tackle them.