Dear Colleagues,

Unconventional Wisdom about Management and Power - why some people have it and others don't by Jeffrey Pfeffer (professor of management at Stanford) has some useful tips for engineering professionals. As we have discussed extensively in the past, to ahead in your company and career, it is sadly not enough to be technical competent and sharp. Jeffrey reckons the following elements are critical to career success:

Ambition - you must believe in yourself and where you want to end up
Energy - you must be highly driven and proactive on a minute-by-minute basis striving to make things happen
Focus - prioritise - we all know there are a million tasks to do but you have to focus on the often unpleasant ones that make 'things happen'
Self-knowledge - make decisions on where you are going from paying attention to your personal observations and know-how of what has happened in the past
Confidence - be sure in yourself and don't hesitate to make hard decisions to press ahead
Empathy with your peers - try hard to understand your colleagues, what makes them tick and how to help them
Bulletproof demeanour - tolerate the inevitable conflict that comes from making hard decisions that are effective

Other interesting observations are that we always underestimate people's willingness to help us - from borrowing a cell phone from a stranger to asking for help from a seemingly disinterested shipping employee in expediting a critical piece of equipment for a project. And a topic which is a thorn in the side of many of us Engineering your ambition to forge ahead technically adept engineering types - it is vital to build up personal networks from exercising together, to sending friendly notes and emails, to calling a colleague in a distant city on his or her birthday.

And let's face it - achieving career success is critical to our long term satisfaction as engineers and technicians. What can be more demoralising than being stuck in a job slot - unrecognised and forgotten despite possessing so many additional talents waiting to be exercised and used.

I had a rueful chuckle over the comment from Ronnie Shakes:

I was going to get a copy of The Power of Positive Thinking, and then I thought: What the hell good would that do?

Thanks to George F. McClure of the IEEE for some interesting discussions and Jeffrey Pfeffer, Power - why some people have it and others don't, Harper Business, 2010.

Yours in engineering learning

Steve