In Trust podcast EP 05: Interview with Sean Lee – Leading at the Frontiers of Science

How do you lead when you’re pressing forward into unknown territory?
In this episode, hosts Lisa Lambert and Rick Kitagawa sit down with Sean Lee, Head of External Relations for TRIUMF, Canada’s premier particle accelerator lab.  Sean drops a masterclass on leading when you’re pushing against the edges of innovation. We also touch on accountability, sustainability, parenthood, and how struggle is an important part of growing as a leader.   

Overview of Episode 05: Interview with Sean Lee - Leading at the Frontiers of Science

Talking Points

  • Science is super cool!
  • How focusing on the human side of technical issues is key for making progress.
  • How to build (and lose) trust, especially at scale.
  • How to succeed when there’s no playbook in what you’re doing.
  • Learning from your mistakes and taking accountability.
  • Building trusted teams and empowering other leaders.
  • Sustainability’s role in building great leaders.
  • Steel sharpens steel – using struggle to develop.


“Trust and honesty, in my view, is the foundation of everything.” Sean Lee

“It doesn’t matter that you’re solving a technical issue.  There’s still people behind those technical issues…if you don’t have that trust, relationships break down very quickly” Sean Lee

“Trust is earned.  It takes time to be fostered and nurtured and communication…is so key to make sure that people feel heard and people feel respected and I think these are key elements to building trust.” Sean Lee 

“It’s good for your organization but it’s also good for you to just admit it, and own it, and say ‘That was a bad call.’ Taking that responsibility says a lot about you but it also helps you accept the outcome and try and move past it and move on and be better from it.” Sean Lee

“It’s about taking those opportunities to empower people to take risks – they’re measured risks – and to know they’re not alone.” Sean Lee

“As biological entities we do better under stress, we develop under stress.” —Sean Lee

Show Notes:

This episode sponsored by:

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