Skills and characteristics of a PI

This list of the skills and characteristics of effective principal investigators (PIs) was generated by PIs themselves in focus groups and other PI training events at a range of institutions.

The skills and characteristics correspond with many of the behaviours and attitudes of high profile research leaders identified in the Vitae Researcher Development Framework (RDF).

You could use this list as a starting point to build a profile of your current skills and characteristics, and to identify  those you would like to acquire. Referring  to the RDF sub-domains will show you where the broader strengths and gaps in your profile are.

Skill/characteristicRDF sub-domains
Adaptable B2.4
Caring B1.3, B1.6, D1
Challenges A3
Consistent B1.2
Delegation D1.2
Develops others  B3 
Does great research  A1.1-4 
Does the right thing  B1.3 
Doesn't compromise  B1.3
Doesn't panic  B1.2 
Efficiency  B2 
Empathises  D1.1-3 
Empowers  D1.3 
Encourages and supports  D1.1-6 
Enthusiastic  B1.1 
Establishes ground rules and expectations  D1.1-3 
Ethical  B1.3, C1.2 
Fair B1.3, D1.1-3
Financially astute  C3 
Fosters creativity  A3 
Good communicator D2, D3.2 
Good listener  B1.5, D1.1-3 
Handles difficult situations  D1.2 
Has authority  B3.5 
Has experience of a similar position  B1.1 
Helps out/'walks the walk'  B2.2 
Incentivises tasks  D1.3 
Innovative  A3.3, A2 
Inspires  B3.5, D1.6 
Is corporate  D3 
Knows where to go for help  C1, C3 
Knowledge of legal, financial requirements, etc  C1, C3.2 
Makes expectations clear D1.3 
Mentors D1.5 
Motivates  D1 
Networks  B3.4 
Nice  D1.1 
Open-minded  A3.1, B1.5 
Openly admits mistakes  B1.5 
Organised  B2 
Passionate  B1.1 
Persuades  A1.1, A3.4, D1.3, D2.1 
Pioneering  A1.1, A2.3, A2.5, A3.3 
Plans project  C2.2 
Political D3.4-6 
Practises what they preach B1.3 
Prioritises B2.3-5 
Proactive B1.1, B1.6, B2.2 
Provides positive feedback D1.1-3
Realistic B1.3, B1.6, B3.1, C1.7, C2.3 
Recognises the importance of individuals  D1.1-5 
Resolves conflict D1.2 
Respectful D1.1
Responsible B1.6 
Tough B1.2 
Sees the bigger picture A3 
Seeks feedback on own performance B1.5 
Self confident B1.4 
Sets a good example B3.5, D1.1-5 
Skilled in recruitment and selection D1.2
Strategic C2.1 
Successful B3.5 
Takes risks A3.5 
Team building D1.2 
Time management B2.3 
Visionary A2, A3.3 
Works to high standards A1.1, B1.3 
Works to objectives B2.1