The Manager Tools and Career Tools series of podcasts are industry-oriented, but I find great value in them as I retool for an academic career. I was never a manager in my industry career, but the communication skills and practical understanding of organizations imparted are gold.

For example, my adviser does regular 1:1s with his students and places a big emphasis on giving and receiving feedback, both MT fundamentals. Some other concepts apply less directly--for example, delegation of tasks as project leader where no one is my actual "direct report". Academic politics differ from industry politics, but fundamental principles (relationship power!) carry over.

It makes me wonder if there's some podcast series or (only slightly less desirable) Web site to help academics improve communications and ability to navigate organizational politics. I'll see what I find with obvious Google searches but I wonder if anyone out there has some favorites to recommend.

  • 2
    Good point and good question. While not directly related, there is a correlation between social/emotional intelligence and the ability to navigate organizational politics. Not sure of a podcast off hand, but if you start piecing together a reading/listening list for yourself I'm sure there are many on the topic of developing social intelligence. Also, Seth Godin writes a lot about this topic as well. He is both an academic and a very successful entrepreneur. Hope this helps. Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 8:21

2 Answers 2


I spent a little while searching around various podcast directories for something like this, and came up blank. I suspect the main cause is that running a lab is really not that much different from running any other group of people, and the difference between PIs/advisors and managers really isn't that big. Because of that, anyone looking for podcasts on running a lab can look to any of a number of management podcasts and follow the advice there. If you're a bad advisor, you don't care anyways, so you're not looking for advice.

That said, I was surprised that I wasn't able to find any podcasts focusing on being an academic, rather than about the topic of academia itself. (I did find this one episode of this university-level teaching podcast, but that seems to have been a one-off episode.) Interestingly enough, someone recently posted a very similar question on reddit, with no good answers other than "Check out chronicle.com." I'm starting to suspect that the answer to your original question is "no".

  • On one hand, I'm starting to think this is a niche that someone, even me (in time), could fill. OTOH--we're academics, for Pete's sake, so who has time to record a podcast? ;)
    – Philip
    Commented Aug 15, 2015 at 3:59

Most academics don't bother with this type of stuff because they don't care. Research is the number one priority and who has time to listen to a podcast that isn't a relevant talk about their research where they can ask a question that shows how smart they are.

The only people who care about politics and management styles are the few who are looking to move into the Administrative side. Perhaps there is someone who wastes time looking up how to be a good dean. Or maybe I should say how to be the type of Dean that the Provost wants you to be.

You should check out the Chronicle for articles on such stuff. I'm not sure if they have podcasts. http://chronicle.com

  • 1
    Your reply seems to mix some serious points with some raw cynicism. I will attempt to differentiate and answer the serious points. 1. Agreed most are too focused on research to care. But the modal behavior is not necessarily the most effective. Most research in my field is collaborative. Those who can communicate well will get more research done.
    – Philip
    Commented Aug 8, 2015 at 17:52
  • 2. Agreed people like to ask questions to show how smart they are (but only marginally relevant here). People like that are typically offputting and not good at building relationships. Could they do better by asking others about the other people's research, thus building relationships? I think so. "How smart they are" will come out in the course of a sustained relationship. People who need to show they're the smartest in the room are typically not the most effective in the room.
    – Philip
    Commented Aug 8, 2015 at 17:57
  • 3. Agreed relationship skills matter for administrators; Disagreed that they're unimportant for others. Managing the relationship with the Provost well, while still getting stuff done, must be hugely important to being an effective Dean. Thus, rather than "wast[ing] time looking up" material, maybe a few podcasts from a skilled leader would be worth the Dean's time.
    – Philip
    Commented Aug 8, 2015 at 17:59

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