Featured Guest Blogger: Anthony Fasano, P.E., CPC, LEED AP
Founder & CEO, Powerful Purpose Associates – New Website!
Civil Engineer and Professional Career & Leadership Development Coach
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Anthony is the author of a FREE service for engineers called A Daily Boost from Your Professional Partner. Click here to read about this service.
Being a licensed engineer as well as a career development coach, I get the opportunity to coach many engineers in a one-on-one setting from entry level to high level executives. Being able to wear both hats (engineer and coach), helps me tremendously in assisting engineers in both their career advancement efforts as well as developing their leadership abilities. One of the most prominent challenges that I have found with engineers is their lack of managerial skills due to their technical backgrounds.
This isn’t the case for all engineers. Some engineers prefer the managerial route to the technical, but in my experience those engineers are in the minority. This issue is prevalent across the industry and impacts many organizations more than they realize. Why? Think about it. Highly technical professionals managing large project teams with tight budgets and time deadlines. To manage, and better yet lead, these types of project teams, certain skills are necessary including delegation, communication and the ability to gain respect from your team. Many of us engineers, may very well have these skills, but they are buried beneath layers of analytical, problem solving, test taking, equation deriving exercises leaving us with a long windy road to navigate to become a good leader.
If you find yourself on this long and windy road, here are some recommendations to help guide you to the promised land:
- Read and/or listen to books that will help you improve your people skills
- Join a group or take a course on public speaking which will help you improve both your confidence and communication skills
- Work really hard to start delegating (start by giving out small tasks at first to give people the opportunity to earn your trust)
- Seek out a mentor that has already conquered the designer to manager transition and ask them to help you along
- Try to slow your mind down whenever you can (i.e. take a walk outside at lunch, brain relaxing activities in the evening – working out, etc.)
- Work with an executive coach regularly on overcoming this challenge
I hope some of these tips will help you in your transition, as I know how difficult it can be. Just know that we are all leaders, it’s just a matter of developing those skills that we have buried beneath our technical layers. It’s not as hard as you think once you get going!
I did refer to being a manager as the promise land earlier, but that’s only true if you want it to be. If you’re happy going the technical route, good for you, keep going. Managing isn’t for everyone; you have to follow your passion!
What are some things that you have done in your career to help transition from designer to manager?