Do you have aspirations of being an engineering leader? Many engineering professionals are ambitious types that want to climb the ladder and reach leadership positions or possibly even start their own firm. Reaching leadership positions is not something that will happen overnight, and you will need to be willing to put the work in over the years. In addition to this, there are also creating skills and characteristics that you will need in order to reach a leadership position. So, if you have aspirations to climb the ladder, then read on to discover a few of the main skills and characteristics that will be required and how they can be developed over time.
Obviously, as an engineer, you will need strong technical skills in order to thrive and climb the ladder. The exact technical skills will depend on what type of engineer you are, but you need to make sure that technical skills do not let you down as it will be impossible to stand out, climb the ladder and succeed in your career without strong technical skills. These will be developed during your studies and training, but you should make a continuous effort to sharpen these existing skills and develop new ones over the course of your career. If you feel that there are any technical skills that are lacking, you could look into additional training to develop them (working on your weaknesses is always important in any line of work).
At its core, engineering is essentially problem-solving. Therefore, it is important to be a good problem-solver with the ability to think critically. You will be using your technical knowledge and expertise to solve a problem, and the best engineering leaders are the ones that are able to create the best solutions, think outside of the box and choose the right course of action for you and your team to take.
One of the reasons that engineering is work that is so rewarding is that you get to be creative each day. It is a mix of technical skills and creativity, so it is hugely helpful if you are someone that is creative by nature. Do not worry if you are not the most creative person in the world, as this is something that can be developed with practice. You may want to find an art form or hobby that is related to your field of engineering as a way to enhance your creativity, which should then help you to stand out from the crowd and find success with your work.
Engineers are those that work with the very latest technology, stay abreast with the latest research, and listen to new fields of thought. As someone that needs to be at the cutting edge in their field, it is important that you are a curious person that has a thirst for knowledge. Engineers that rise through the ranks are the ones that are continuously learning and improving, whether this is reading journals, listening to podcasts, attending industry events, reading blogs, or listening to podcasts. This is helpful in terms of keeping your knowledge high but also by showing your commitment to your profession. The engineers that rise to leadership positions are the ones that have a true passion for their work and are continuously looking to learn and improve.
Obviously, strong communication skills are essential if you want to become an engineering leader. You will need to be able to clearly communicate the reasoning for your decisions, direct members of your team, and present your work to clients and senior management. Strong communication skills are also important for building relationships and making a good first impression – something that will be key when looking to advance your career. If there are any weaknesses in your communication skills, whether this is presentational skills, listening, or writing, you should make an effort to develop these areas. You can do this with courses, training and a lot of practice. This is worthwhile because not only will it help you to advance your career, but it will also help to build your professional reputation (and be helpful in your personal life too).
Ability To Develop Strategy
Engineering leaders must also be able to develop and execute strategies. In engineering, it is very easy to focus entirely on the small details and day-to-day work. While this is important, a leader will be able to take a step back and see the big picture. This will allow you to steer the ship in the right direction and ensure that you are meeting all deadlines along the way. Long-term success requires the ability to develop and execute strategy, and this is something that every engineering leader will need to excel at.
Ability To Instill Trust
In any leadership position, you must be able to instill trust. You will have a team working for you that needs to look up to you, trust in your ability to lead, and find you easy to come to when they are having problems, ideas or questions. To instill trust in your team, you need to have strong self-confidence, have a good track record, and be someone that is professional but also warm, friendly, and approachable.
Ability To Get To Know Staff
Following on from this, you also need to be able to get to know each of your team members. This is important in terms of building trust, creating positive relationships, and matching task to skill. A good manager will have strong relationships with each team member to create a positive atmosphere so that communication remains strong throughout the project. You should also be aware of the strengths and weaknesses that each of your team members has and then find ways to get the most out of them, keep morale high and help them progress their careers, and develop new skills under your wing. Most engineers will be ambitious like you, so you should get to know their goals and then help them to work towards these.
Ability To Work As Part Of a Team
Strong leadership skills are important, but you also need to make sure that you are a team player and able to work as part of a team. Engineering leaders must work with members of their team, other management figures, and with clients, so it is important that you are able to work as part of a team and understand your role in the process. Leadership roles are obviously hugely important in engineering projects, but every position is important in an engineering project, and it is when everyone knows their role and respects one another that you are able to find success with your projects.
Anyone looking to develop their engineering career and reach higher positions should take a master’s degree in their chosen field. A masters in electrical and computer engineering is ideal for those working in automotive engineering and advanced mobility and will give you the technical skills and expertise to take on key roles in projects such as the development of autonomous and electric vehicles. It will also help your resume to stand out and allow you to apply for more senior positions. Additionally, you can take the course entirely online, which will make it much easier to fit into your schedule.
Ability To Work Under Pressure
Engineering work can be high pressure, especially as you start to approach deadlines. As a leader, you need to be able to keep your cool, work to a high standard under pressure and keep your team well-organized and calm. Employees tend to adopt the approach of those in charge, so keeping your cool but continuing to work hard each day will be key and should help you and your team to find success.
Managing Without Micromanaging
One of the best – yet hardest – skills that a good engineering leader has is the ability to manage without micromanaging. Engineering work requires a hands-on approach, and you will certainly need to make yourself available for your team, but you also need to avoid micromanaging your staff. When you can strike the right balance, you will be able to get the most out of your team, help them to feel supported, and avoid stepping on any toes.
Finally, you need to be ambitious. This is because engineering leaders need to be ambitious with their projects so that they can deliver to a high standard and keep the entire team motivated at all times. You also need to be ambitious to advance your career, develop new skills, and chive your goals.
If you have aspirations to become an engineering leader, then these are a few of the skills and characteristics that will be required. Most engineers are ambitious types, but to progress your career, you need to be willing to put the work in and find ways to develop the skills that will help you to become a good engineering leader and take the helm on important projects.