Leadership Lessons from Engineers

Every field produces talented leaders well-versed in their industry’s trials and triumphs. From entrepreneurs to middle managers working their way up the corporate ladder, executives can’t succeed without a combination of risk-taking and dependability, an ability to create a both a stable environment and company growth. One field, however, produces a higher percentage of leaders than most: engineering.

Why Engineers Excel in Leadership

Engineers excelling in leadership roles is no new phenomenon. The most common undergraduate degree for Fortune 500 CEOs is engineering. Some of the corporate world’s most successful leaders specialized in engineering Masters or PhD programs. Countless other executives pair engineering experience with a strong MBA. Engineers have a natural inclination to solve problems, quickly calculating risk and reward to determine the most viable solutions. They also excel at reinvention, a skill often utilized by CEOs, CMOs, and COOs. The skills they lack — typically soft skills like communication and team management — are teachable. When an engineering mindset combines with sharp business acumen, engineers quickly climb the corporate ranks to executive careers.

Lessons CEOs Can Learn from Engineers

  • Problem-Solving Skills. Every C-suite executive must learn to solve problems quickly and efficiently. Engineers have a unique ability not only to solve problems, but also look for opportunities in setbacks. Inventing a new solution to an old problem may provide a permanent solution. It might also build growth instead of simply preventing failure.
  • Detail-orientation. High-ranking executives lack the time to examine every operation within their companies. Without delegation, no corporation could survive its first year. An eye for details, however, allows executives to predict growth, hone in on fresh opportunities, and eliminate potential problems before they arise.
  • Innovation. Engineers are primarily logically-minded, but they don’t fear calculated risk-taking. CEOs should think critically about what’s stifling their team’s creativity. By creating an environment that encourages experimentation, invention, and exploration, executives can push their companies to unforeseen levels of success and growth.

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