How to Lead Your Engineers If You’re Left-Brained All the Way

As a left-brained leader, you’re bound to get along with your engineers; left-brained thinking tends to dominate the field, as engineers are famously logical and analytical. Leadership is about more than mere logic, however, and a lack of self behavioral management can make things very difficult when conflict strikes in the workplace. The following tips will help you make the most of your left-brained strengths while also incorporating aspects of right-brained leadership:

Purposefully Seek Out New Ideas

Left-brained people tend to be less open to new ideas than their right-brained counterparts. The engineers in your department may willingly go along with your plans, but in all likelihood, they are bursting at the seams with valuable ideas. Encourage engineers to share these ideas — and restrain your urge to immediately critique them and promote your plan. Strictly top-down leadership is a thing of the past; today’s most effective leaders understand that value can be extracted from employees on all rungs of the professional ladder.

Look at the Bigger Picture

There’s nothing wrong with being detail-oriented, but as an engineering leader, you also need to occasionally step back and view the bigger picture. This is an especially valuable tool for conflict management, as seemingly focused conflicts are often part of a larger trend. Are there any workplace processes that limit productivity or promote conflict? Be open to changing the minor details in favor of a more cohesive operation.

Don’t Be Blinded By Metrics

Left-brained leaders are invariably fascinated by metrics, which can be used to determine everything from overall job performance to stress in the workplace. However, metrics only tell part of the story. Instead of simply gathering and analyzing performance numbers or turnover statistics, put together a more inclusive survey that addresses specific elements of employee satisfaction — and gives employees the ability to share comments and critiques. 

Invest in Creativity Training

As a left-brained leader in a largely left-brained workplace, you may find it difficult to break out of patterns reinforced by your equally analytical employees. Creativity training that promotes idea generation and broad knowledge can help you and your employees better integrate both regions of the brain. Encourage employees to lead well-rounded lives and, when possible, extract new ideas from diverse surroundings.

The analytic details and careful planning associated with left-brained thinking are undeniably valuable, but there is also value in the creativity and broader picture approach of right-brained individuals. The most successful engineering departments combine elements of both modes of thinking, so be sure to incorporate right-brained ideas and values whenever possible.

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