‘You see things; and you say Why? But I dream things that never were; and I say Why not? (George Bernard Shaw). I believe that one of the great signs of leadership is in questioning what you do, in identifying new ways of doing things and taking your team or organisation to incredible new opportunities.

 

Dear Colleague

‘You see things; and you say Why? But I dream things that never were; and I say Why not? (George Bernard Shaw). I believe that one of the great signs of leadership is in questioning what you do, in identifying new ways of doing things and taking your team or organisation to incredible new opportunities.

Leadership is something that all great engineering professionals should work on achieving.  Business and life is extraordinarily turbulent at present. And I believe we often get swept along in an organisation because we don't take control of our lives and have some mediocre manager running our lives. As we all know - engineering professionals like working in the technical area and leadership is often not on the agenda. But it should be!

Why should you bother to read further? Well; leadership is something you should actively consider engaging in more aggressively to benefit your engineering career. No matter whether you are an electrician, technician or engineer.
 
Shackleton of the Antarctic was an incredible Leader
There are incredible leaders such as Shackleton of Antarctic fame who recruited his team with the incredible advert which drew thousands of applicants(‘Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success.’). But leadership is most definitely not something that only a few people have. We all have these skills to some extent – some greater than others. It is about taking ownership and driving yourself further and “working” your leadership skills in your job with greater enthusiasm and showing a stronger questioning attitude about everything you do.

However at all levels engineers and technicians need to seize ownership - drive innovation and real improvements - thus benefitting customers and increasing profits and improving your day-to-day life and those around you.

There is a definite shortage of good leaders and there is thus an enormous opportunity. Obviously some of the disadvantages of being a leader is perhaps additional stress and the considerably greater responsibility in impacting on other people’s lives.

Engineers need to be influential. At all levels of an organization, engineers should play a significant role in driving innovations that will benefit customers and increase profits and opportunities for everyone.

What is leadership?
Leadership is simply the ability to get things done with a group of people. There are three key functions:

  • Develop your team (Select the right people/coach and train ‘em)
  • Motivate your team (Understand them and coach them to achieve)
  • Equip your team (direct your team as well as identify and obtain the necessary resources for them)

As far as the distinction between management and leadership? Warren Bennis says: ‘Management is getting people to do what needs to be done. Leadership is
getting people to want to do what needs to be done. Managers push. Leaders pull. Managers command. Leaders communicate.’

The following are a few reasons why you as an engineering professionals need to apply your leadership skills:

  • Being technical only is not sufficient for your career success

Technology changes all the time. And how many times have you seen someone who knows nothing about engineering taking a management or leadership position? However, your engineering know-how coupled with leadership puts you in an incredibly powerful position.

  • Leadership is far more than being a manager

Managers are often appointed. Leading and managing are often different skill sets. They may have been bumped up to a higher level as they have been so long in the organisation. You can show real leadership and technical know-how and be far more successful.

  • You can guide your less experienced peers.
  • You can provide direction to lower level engineering professionals in your organisation. And influence them in a positive way.
  • You can influence the decision makers. You understand engineering and technology better than most people and can help these high level managers make the right decisions to grow your organisation.
  • Great projects only succeed with great engineering leaders. How many mediocre managers do you know that are in charge of engineering projects? Help these managers with great leadership.
  • You get greater satisfaction (and dare I say, ‘fun and excitement’) in your day-to-day work by being a leader and showing creativity in driving your organisation to success.

Surely, you can get greater satisfaction in your career by showing imaginative new ways of taking your firm and career to new heights. Rather than being stuck in the same old way.

Yours in engineering learning

Steve

Mackay’s Musings – 31st May’16 #602
780, 293 readers – www.idc-online.com/blogs/stevemackay