We have all experienced both good and bad leadership. Many of us have also practiced both good and unfortunately at times, bad leadership. This makes summing up a lifetime of learning and experience into a simple reference framework a daunting prospect. One can immediately think of so many situations where a simple framework just seems unbelievable or at best very hard to apply.
As an engineer I have come to believe that despite the complexity of leadership we can break it down into fundamentals that provide a framework that can be used to build great leaders. We learn very early in engineering that solving complex design challenges requires the application of simplifying assumptions. By declaring several potential variables as constants, we create the ability to solve the most complicated challenges. Creating a simple leadership framework that makes one of the world’s most complicated topics more trainable and teachable requires this same type of thinking.
Leaders are not born, they are built
Many of us who have pursued engineering arrived there because we liked to build things. Maybe it was your first Lego set, the first circuit you put together, or the first time you watched a skyscraper rise from the ground. Regardless of the inspiration, the desire to build, to construct, to develop, to make or to improve is a universal driver across the profession. Engineering Leadership is true to this universal trait. The belief behind this framework and approach to leadership is that leaders are not born, they are built.
To build leaders and make the leadership equation solvable we have to declare some fundamental constants. We have to plant some flags that will not move. We have to establish values that will not be compromised regardless of the situation.
Nail the Constants so you can Solve the Variables
These constants are a starting point, a foundation, an outline. They are not a detailed prescription for every situation. That said, I firmly believe that if we establish these constants – first for ourselves and then for those around us – that we are in a position to “solve” for the most complex and difficult leadership situations. Once we have reduced the number of overall variables and created a consistent perspective to work from, we empower ourselves and our teams to tackle otherwise impossible situations.
Engineering Leadership will be offered first as a series of blog posts that can be compiled into a book, expanded with a series of podcasts and seminars, and then eventually developed into a detailed training curriculum. The effort is designed to be collaborative and to allow engineers who have a passion for leadership and an willingness to contribute the opportunity to add to the effort. Like all good adventures it will be a journey, not a destination.
To join me, link here for part 1 of our 5 part blog series – The Heart of Leadership