Leadership Lessons from DNA Scientists

I attended a teleconference last week where the speaker (wish I could remember his name!) spoke of leaders who lose perspective because they fail to ask for input. In other words, they see themselves as the smartest person in the room. It catches up with them eventually.

He told the Story of Watson and Crick, the scientists who discovered the structure of DNA. There were other rival scientists trying to do the same thing – how was it that these two were able to succeed? When asked, Watson and Crick said:

  1. They identified the right problem
  2. They were passionate about their work
  3. They were willing to attempt approaches that they were not initially familiar with
  4. They were not the most intelligent scientists pursuing the answer

Rosalyn Franklin was widely believed at the time of Watson and Crick’s discovery to be the smartest one working on discovering the structure of DNA. It was believed (by herself also) that she was so smart that she rarely sought advice or asked for input. Rosalyn could have been the scientist to go down in history had she been a little more humble. A great lesson for all of us.

I am a former executive in a Fortune 100 company. I have owned and operated an executive coaching firm since 2003 called Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. We partner with great leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving, and sustaining relationships with the people who are essential to their success. This blog is for leaders and those who help them to be more intentional about relationships at work. My top personal values include respect for others, kindness, compassion, collaboration and gratitude. I work very hard at practicing my values daily and when I don’t succeed, I practice some more. I am married with two wonderful daughters and two spoiled pugs.