Leadership is Like Engineering

Issue #3
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Leadership is Like Engineering

By Luis Duque | Issue 3

Hi Friends,

It has been a busier week than normal, but I am happy that the podcast is continuing getting in the swing of 2021 with even more amazing guests. If you didn’t listen to yesterday’s episode with Stephanie yet, you should check it out. She was recently given the SHPE Excellence in Leadership Award, which relates to the topic I want to share about with all of you today.

I recently read an article that compares engineering with leadership. I don’t know about you, but for the longest time I did not see those two words mentioned in the same sentence. I have always thought of engineers as introverts (more on this topic in a future issue) and highly technical individuals with little to no soft skills.

As I advance in my career and become more involved with committees, this perspective has changed tremendously. Engineers as a whole ARE leaders, but sadly we do not portray that image to younger generations (and often not even to our own peers). I, and many others in the profession, are on a mission to change this mindset. I have joined committees on business practices and leadership to tackle this very topic, and it has led to some of the most rewarding conversations and relationships I have been able to develop.

The article I mentioned above starts with a great quote from Friedrich Nietzsche that says “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

Further, what struck me the most from the article was the comparison of the methods we use in our engineering careers to lead teams. Using the why-what-how framework will allow us to understand what out team needs and how we can emerge from a difficult situation. I know leadership skills don’t come natural to anyone – it is a skill that needs to be practiced and perfected over time – but what if we apply the basic methodical principles we use in engineering to lead others?

This topic has been in my mind for a few months now as the SEI Building Structural Leaders committee is completing our charter to present to the Board of Governors. This is just a small team of a bigger group including the Ashraf Habibullah Leadership Academy to help structural engineers develop the skills they need to become key members of our society.

I know we as engineers like well-defined paths to a solution, and while leadership has none of that, we can create a framework for ourselves to give us the best chance to lead through difficult situations.

Thinking like an engineer means being agile and amenable to pivoting your what as obstacles arise or new learnings emerge

Girish Pancha

I hope this issue gave you some thought-provoking ideas!

Let’s continue Engineering our Future.

Luis Duque

Quote of the Week

Nobody is going to email you about a true emergency (a death in the family, etc.), so leave your email alone for the first few hours of each day. Use the morning to do what’s important rather than responding to what is “urgent.”

From The Productivity Guide: My Best Productivity and Time-Management Tips by James Clear resurfaced using Readwise

This Week's Favorites

  1. Podcast episode: I am a big fan of the School of Greatness by Lewis Howes and this past week he released and episode called Three Steps to Make 2021 Your BEST Year Yet. He talks about goals and systems which is something I have been learning and sharing more lately. Check out the Podcast App Airr to take snippets of podcasts like the ones I shared here.
  2. Article: Staying in the habits theme, I read an article on 7 Mental Habits That Highly Successful People Can Overdo. I found it really interesting to learn that all of these habits while they essential to be successful could harm our performance.

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