Engineers are widely regarded as intelligent, talented, and hardworking individuals, but few people think of them as natural leaders. Engineering leaders may not always think or work exactly like conventional managers, but they do bring many valuable qualities to the workplace. Most are simply undeserving of the unfair criticism they receive from people who don’t understand the complexities of their work. Highlighted below are a few of the most destructive myths about engineers and leadership:
1. Engineers can’t be creative.
Engineers and their managers aren’t always proficient artists or wordsmiths, but they do hold the potential for creativity. It’s just a different, more subtle take on creativity. Engineers are, at heart, creators, and when allowed to approach problems in their own unique way, they can come up with some truly innovative solutions.
2. Engineers are, by nature, socially inept.
Engineers face unfair stereotypes about their supposed lack of social skills. Yes, they can be stubborn, and yes, they’re more analytic than your average person, but they can communicate effectively when given the chance.
3. Engineers don’t get along with other departments.
Seeing eye to eye with different departments can be a struggle for engineers. But many love interacting with other professionals — and many believe that the viewpoints offered by different departments make their own work better.
4. Engineering departments aren’t inclusive.
There is a need for more diversity in engineering, but that doesn’t mean that today’s engineers go out of their way to exclude women and minorities. As leaders, engineers are constantly trying to attract and maintain a diverse workforce made up of the industry’s finest professionals.
5. Engineers don’t have lives outside of work.
This myth goes along with the common misconception about engineers being socially inept. Not only do many engineers in leadership positions have significant others and children, many also have large social circles and unique hobbies. They require work-life balance just as much as any other professional — but when they’re at work, they give it their all.
Engineering is a far more social and rewarding career field than outsiders suspect, particularly for those who take on leadership roles. Managing engineers can be challenging, but when done correctly, it’s also incredibly gratifying.