Episode Transcript

The farther you go in your engineering career the more you think about the kind of leader you wanna be. 

You’ve already been exposed to leadership resources of all kinds. You’ve seen at least one list of good leadership characteristics.

But what does it mean to take on those characteristics? And how do you apply them in real life?

It’s one thing to learn about good leaders. And it’s another thing altogether to be one yourself.

Great Engineering Leaders Set the Example for You to Follow

It helps to see good leaders in action. I’m sure you know a few.

Today I want to expand your notion of the leader you wanna be by giving you examples of leaders I’ve seen in action

I’ll tell you about some of the engineering leaders I’ve known. And share what has impressed me about their quality of leadership. Here are 7 different qualities:

Quality 1: Motivating Through Connection

Jane manages a team of engineers in a research setting. What impresses me about her is her brilliance in interacting with people. 

She shows genuine interest and makes an effort to connect with all her employees. 

They appreciate that she listens and knows their goals. She challenges them with work that aligns with those goals. And they love working in her group.

Quality 2: Strategic Questioning

Gemma is a board member who specializes in business and marketing for technical organizations. She’s a master at asking questions

She’s taught me never to pass up the opportunity to ask questions. To be direct but tactful. And to ask the right questions to get to the heart of the matter.

Quality 3: Agile Decision-Making

Ted manages large programs in aerospace systems. His master skill is agile decision-making. He’s learned to make decisions quickly. And not just small, insignificant ones.

He focuses on the goal, using only a minimal amount of information, and makes decisions sooner rather than later. 

He doesn’t wait til he has every possible piece of data. He’s willing to take a certain amount of risk. And he keeps the program on track. 

Is every decision perfect? No. But it doesn’t have to be. And he’s willing to change his decision when necessary.

Quality 4: Organizational Insight

I know 2 leaders who have extraordinary organizational insight. 

Derek is high up on the technical track and is often tapped to help resolve organization-wide issues. 

His strength is his grasp of the big picture. And his ability to bring people together to address a situation. 

He knows how to assess people’s concerns, come up with feasible solutions and get them implemented across the corporation.

Aaron’s strength – different from Derek’s – is in how he represents the organization to other groups. 

He’s not in the management chain any more. But his extensive experience makes him a great face-of-the-organization to outside partners and customers. 

I characterize him as a very open-minded guy. Non-judgmental. And a good collaborator. He’s creative in how he puts strategies together to accomplish mutual goals.

Quality 5: Genuine Influence

Dave is a higher level manager in materials research. He’s a strong and effective leader. But what I admire most about him is his excellent skill in influencing people

He reads people really well. And can very quickly understand their view of things. Based on that he knows how to genuinely connect with them.

He gets people to see that his ideas are aligned with them. And that’s the key to persuasion.

It’s this skill that makes Dave a great mediator and negotiator.

Quality 6: Problem Solving

Mara is a high level academic at a leading university. And she is the queen of problem-solving. She has an eye for seeing right through issues and obstacles to get you where you need to go. 

And then she makes swift and agile use of her power to remove roadblocks and pave the way for success. She’s a no-nonsense leader with a keen acuity for what’s right and fair.

She’s also very good at giving recognition and encouragement to people all across her wide network.

Quality 7: Inclusivity

And finally Teri is an executive in the aerospace industry. When I knew her she was working for the government, making her way up the management chain. 

What always impressed me about Teri is how she could put you at ease.

She had a way of instilling the sense of team by taking the hierarchy out. By making you feel the value of your skills and strengths. And by sharing and giving the spotlight.

With her story-telling style and easy humor, she related to people in understandable terms. In this way she brought out the best in people.

Pursue Leadership Qualities that Align with You and Your Career Vision

How do all these people get good at these leadership approaches? They practice. They focus on who they wanted to be. Then they practice and learn and improve until they get there.

You can do the same. Pursue the leadership qualities that best align with you and your career vision. Practice them and use your strengths to enhance them.

You and I can strategize how to do this. Sign up for a strategy session so we can brainstorm the best approaches for you. 

I challenge you to pursue your inner leader. Learn the approaches that take you farther faster in your engineering career. And help you develop your own unique qualities and leadership style.

Next time on Her Engineering Career Podcast we’ll explore the need of women engineers to be needed and liked. And why you should trade pleasing for achieving. 

Be sure to join me for Episode 111.