Engineers as Leaders (part 5 of 5)

L. Eric Culverson | Comments | September 9, 2013

L. Eric Culverson –

This discussion series is an excerpt of my book: The Competence Myth – Why your technical skills are no longer enough and what you can do about it (based on Chapter 3:Becoming a Leader )

Hi, I’m Eric Culverson, author of the competence myth: Why your technical skills are no longer enough and what you can do about it.

This is the final blog post in our series on the topic of leadership.  Specifically, I’ll cover the remaining two of the overall 7 tenets of effective leadership.

Now, just to quickly review what we already discussed, this is a list of 7 essential traits that make you a leader at any level, they are 1. Communication, 2. Vision, 3. Inspiration, 4. Enthusiasm, and 5. Empathy

That brings us to number 6. Self-Discipline

As a leader, you should always be prepared to set the example.  Even in a casual sense, other team members will watch what you do and how you handle various situations.  When challenges are presented to the group, what is your attitude?  Do you embrace those moments with a positive and enthusiastic perspective?  Are you the first person to devote more time and effort as needed?  On the other hand, are you the ring-leader for the predictable “bitch-and-moan” session?

Leaders are always prepared to do more, accept more responsibility, and carry a greater share of the load. Having said that, you shouldn’t strive to be a flunky, where everything gets dumped onto your plate.  Rather, you should strike a balance, one that clearly demonstrates that you’re willing to work as hard as any other member of the team, and occasionally harder if necessary. That work ethic, combined with good communication skills, will increase your profile.  It will garner the respect and appreciation of your co-workers and supervisors.

To reiterate, don’t work yourself to death in solitude.  That defeats the broader purpose.  Without being boastful, ensure that your extra efforts are recognized. There’s an old saying, “We could all get more done if we didn’t worry about who gets the credit.” I heartily believe in that philosophy. I also believe that as an emerging leader, you cannot afford to labor in obscurity. Your contribution to the team and to the project should be duly noted.  As a leader, you have the self-discipline required to do more when necessary.  Your additional efforts are certainly worth noting.  The issue is balance.  Leaders don’t particularly seek praise; instead they leave an indelible mark by their persistent character, example, and effort.

The final tenet of effective leadership is accountability.  Know thyself and be true to you.  Effective leaders don’t pass the buck and they don’t hide from blame if it is warranted. They don’t seek invisibility within the masses. They assume complete responsibility for their actions at all times.  They are recognized as both dependable and capable. No one is perfect, and we all make mistakes from time to time.  We all occasionally do things that upon later reflection, we wish we had handled differently.

Accountability means that even in the most difficult, awkward, and embarrassing moments, you’re willing to take full responsibility; admit you were wrong if necessary, and then move on.  The main point is to become recognized as the individual whose integrity and whose motivation can never be questioned.

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