Today, leadership qualities and the ability to lead are indispensable prerequisites for the successful management of teams in research as well as for a personal career.

This has also been discovered by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, KIT for short. The institute, the largest research facility in Germany, is a university in the state of Baden-Württemberg and a national research center in the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers.

Based on this finding, the Young Investigator Network (YIN) was created in 2008 as a platform for the promotion and support of junior professors and junior research group leaders.

This network offers its members a comprehensive free educational program. The program provides YIN members with the best possible support in their professional activities in terms of leadership, management and personality development. This enables them to optimally fulfill their leadership tasks in the scientific community.

Part of the program is the educational program “Leadership Excellence”, which consists of three workshop modules. Karin Funk, Human Resource Development Officer at KIT, explains: “The offer is intended for young scientists, mostly soon-to-be professors. The courses are an important step on the way to a professorship – after all, personality and leadership skills are becoming more and more important also in the appointment process.”

Every year, up to twelve researchers take part who, according to Funk, are already established in the science community and want to take their career further.


The LEaD Competence Model is an essential element of the Leadership Excellence module. Funk particularly appreciates LEaD’s catchy, integrative approach: “Coaching, promoting, training employees – all this is easily understood”. According to Funk, the visual implementation of the results also contributes to a good understanding, and all elements are well aligned.

Within the framework of the three modules, theoretical stimulus is conveyed, tangible cases are discussed and practical exercises around the five leadership competencies of the LEaD model are performed:
Strategy-oriented leadership and solution-oriented communication
The executive as target and task manager
The executive as coach and team builder
The executive as an environment designer and manager of change
The authentic personality

The LEaD competence model is divided into the areas of diagnosis and development. The supporting pillar is the LEaD leadership feedback based on a questionnaire for the assessment of leadership competencies – according to Funk “a very nice reflection model”.

The results of the leadership feedback provide the participants with an impression of their strengths and areas of development, creating the basis for optimizing their leadership competence.

Funk sees the proximity of LEaD to science as an important aspect for the acceptance of the LEaD model. Dr. Stefan Dörr, one of LEaD’s protagonists, has a background in science and understands its conditions and requirements. The LEaD Competence Model also has its roots in science and thus differs from many other programs in the field of leadership development.


The LEaD Competence Model tells participants individually where they can start to improve their leadership skills. Funk explains: “The participants are not satisfied with just theoretical knowledge. They want to see a tangible application enabling them to put their newly acquired knowledge into practice as quickly as possible. The LEaD model optimally meets these expectations.”