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.
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.