Article Source: IMechE
Competent engineers often stand out and tend to move to more senior positions, which creates the need for leadership responsibilities and skills that are entirely different to the all-familiar technical know-how they will have amassed to advance.
This is not uncommon at all. A recent study by the CIPD found that three quarters (72%) of UK organisations report a lack of leadership skills within their ranks.
An ineffective leader does not need to be a tyrant, though. They may simply be a manager who is not aware of the most effective ways to provide feedback, support different personality types or spot when a member of their team is struggling.
The importance of good leadership
Research from Blanchard found that most organisations are around 5-10% less productive than they would be if they had good leadership in place. What’s more, as much as a third of staff turnover could be avoided through improved leadership skills.
Good leaders get the best from their teams – they encourage an environment of trust which feeds motivation and develops loyalty. With better leadership also comes improved staff morale and retention – and fewer recruitment costs.
A good leader’s ‘halo effect’ seems to create benefits beyond their own team, positively affecting the organisation as a whole. When engineering organisations have strong leaders, they tend to communicate better and break down silos – encouraging innovation and improved performance. Enhancing leadership skills among senior staff boosts customer satisfaction scores as supported by consultancy Zenger-Folkman, finding that strong leaders can double business profits.
The good news is that leadership skills which can be learnt
Although some lucky people are born with the right leadership skills, most will have to work hard to learn and develop and refine this skillset.
Leadership training provides a balance of ‘soft’, interpersonal skills that are invaluable for getting the best out of teams, developing a vision which gets others on board, and the ‘hard’ tangible skills required to set objectives in complex engineering environments.
The Institution’s training team has over 30 years’ experience in transforming talented technical professionals into leaders of the future.