Tomorrow’s Engineer: Leadership Lessons
The Problem, Not The PersonFirst, when a problem arises, don’t waste time identifying who made the mistake. In the past, I have observed companies that found it essential to “identify the bad guy” first and then proceed to solve the problem. This has proven to be a common theme that I have observed over the years, and I believe it is directly connected with the leadership of the group, department, and/or company. For whatever reason, the person in-charge believes that this is an orderly process to problem solving. It also helps keep their name clear as an integral part of maintaining their leadership.
I am always amused at this approach to management and, if it is obvious to me, then I’m sure it is obvious to others that this individual lacks the confidence within them to effectively lead others. If you are in a leadership position and no matter what the situation, when a problem arises, assume the trouble starts with you. After all, if you are in charge, you do share some, if not all, of the responsibility.
A better way to solve problems is to focus 100% on the problem and resolve it. After the issue had been resolved, it is worth going back and applying “lessons learned.” The unique benefit of leadership is that everyone can learn from good and bad experiences alike. Problem solving can be a good experience and a great builder of character and leadership.
Proactive Personnel ApproachA second means of communicating leadership is through the process of “worrying about keeping an employee.” The alternative to this approach is “worrying about losing an employee.” What’s the difference? Well there is a big difference when you routinely communicate with employees, making sure that they are doing a great job meeting commitments to the company, and making sure the company is meeting it’s commitments to the employee.
As the person-in-charge, it is imperative that you do what is required of yourself as a manager to make sure people are succeeding and that they are being reimbursed for their efforts both in money and opportunities. If you do everything you can for your employees and the day comes when one decides to leave the firm for reasons beyond what is possible for the company to provide, then you know there is nothing more you could have done.
If you have not been doing your job as a manager and someone moves on because he or she correctly feels unfairly treated, (whatever the reason) and they are correct, then it is too late to “worry about losing the employee.”
Don’t Debate To The DeathOne last “word of wisdom”: Never back anyone into a corner that the person can’t get out of. I was taught this advice years ago and find it useful on a regular basis. It is not unusual to find two individuals in a discussion where one may really want to win the argument to “prove” that the other person was wrong. For some people, this provides a false sense of control and leadership.
It is important to remember that no one is always right and could have the “table turned” on him or her someday by the other individual. Taking advantage of the moment will only come back to haunt the victor in the future. It is never important to win every battle (discussion). You can always count on losing an argument/discussion in the future, so the goal is to win the war! Winning the war is always a sign of great leadership. Communicating to achieve and resolve and not to conquer can avoid future problems. A great communicator can always be a great leader. ES