Engineers: Understanding Your Role as a Leader

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 7 of my book Engineer Your Own Success:


Another important aspect of being a good leader is understanding your role. As a leader, your role is to help those that you are leading to do their job to the best of their ability. Therefore in order for you to succeed, you should strive to help them succeed. This is a difficult concept for many engineering professionals to grasp. Many professionals are so worried about advancing their own careers that they shy away from helping others because they believe it will take away from their own success. This is another limiting belief that can be detrimental to your career.


I have said over and over again in this book that in order to advance your career, it’s important to always put yourself in a position to succeed. Helping others do so is the absolute quickest way to accomplish this. In our competitive world today so many engineering professionals feel that they have to constantly fight for themselves, and the idea of helping other engineers, whether they are co-workers or not, is perceived as a bad career move. Please don’t take this approach, because not only will it bring you negativity and impede your success, it may also cause you to be disliked by many people, thus making your career more miserable than enjoyable.


I have seen both types of professionals in my engineering career: those who focus solely on their own advancement, and those who are dedicated to helping others. Guess what? The helpers always seem to have more rewarding and enjoyable careers. The helpers are those people that everyone in the office absolutely loves to work with, and are the people that everyone wants to be around at social gatherings. The helpers are those professionals that have extraordinary careers and truly enjoy their lives.


Please don’t confuse understanding your role with delegating, which I will discuss in the next section. Delegating is about knowing what project tasks you “should” or “should not” be doing, and assigning the “should not” ones to others who are more capable of completing them. Understanding your role is knowing that your responsibility as a leader is to provide support to those that you are leading, and then let them do it!


I distinctly remember that I once had two managers as engineers that were the total opposite of each other. One of them understood their role and the other didn’t. For example, when I was finished with a design plan, one of the managers would sit with me immediately or soon after I finished and review it with me, while the other manager never had the time to review it. I thoroughly liked working with the one that understood his role, did the review immediately, and gave me the feedback, information, and confidence that I needed to finish the plan. The other manager’s lack of interest always left me questioning how much he really cared about the project or the team, since he was always too busy to work with me. My productivity and efficiency, as well as my level of enjoyment in the workplace, were drastically higher working for the leader who understood his role and took the time to go over my work.

Take a look at your own career. Are you supporting those that you are leading, whether they are staff members, project team members, or even classmates? Are you putting them in a position to succeed by giving them the materials, information, attention, support, and knowledge that they need to succeed, or are you focusing on your own tasks to ensure your own rise up the corporate ladder? Please think about the role you are playing in your career and the impact it has on yourself and others.

In Chapter 7, the art of becoming a great leader is uncovered. Whether you realize it or not, everyone at some point in their career becomes involved in a leadership role. How you handle the responsibilities of being a leader can make a huge difference between being a team project manager, or moving forward into a senior management position.


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Also check out our LinkedIn Group and Facebook Fanpage to gain support from other engineers!


To Your Success!

Anthony Fasano, P.E., LEED AP, ACC
Your Professional Partner

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