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How can I progress and improve myself?
Question :

I am 35 and got BEng and MPhil degrees in Electronic Engineering. I am now a Lead Engineer. Recently I have had a meeting with my supervisor and he has suggested it is necessary to show off my leadership if I want to make any progression. I totally agree with him. But how can I be a leader.

Frankly speaking, I am just a typical engineer and do not like talking too much or a bit shy. I absolutely lacks the charming of a leader.

Do you have any suggestion for me to improve myself? Thanks a lot.

Posted by SK on Saturday, 07 May 2011

Comments :


Posted Saturday 2nd July 2011 04:17:00 PM


You can have different kinds of "leadership". Have you ever seen the US or the UK version of The Apprentice? Look at the different people who have won. Their leadership styles were SO different. Some quiet individuals can have a great maximising impact by being collaborative rather than being authoritative. At the end of the day, you are trying to build a great working team, and as harsh as it may sound, those who are definite troublemakers who disturb the effectiveness of a group will often have to go. That is going to be a decision that you have to make. Or as in my own experience, they are given projects and sidetracked down the path that they themselves want to go, and leave a good solid working team to be managed. I myself am a quiet individual, but I got people to work with me, and I "coax" them to work with me while maximising our working relationship. I work in financial system analysis in IT, and different departments always have to work with me in order to keep them afloat and so that we create a "win-win" approach. We do not as people have to change ourselves to be lying to ourselves, or to be a "talker" and play politics, cos at the end of the day, it is all about the company's goals. There should not be any politics. There are bad decisions. There should not be any fights. Each person's title and responsibilities are stated in the job spec. If there are chaos and confusions which are not resolved, then really, it is down to management to resolve and align them to organisational goals. It is actually quite common in scientific departments to have really smart and strategic leaders, than the kind of outgoing "charming" leaders you see in the Commercial departments. I am female myself and I work in IT. I rather have a like-minded leader who understood the system that I support and can talk shop, than someone who pays mere lip service to me. These kind of middle-tier managers are no good to me. Yet, as I learnt that in MNC, the higher level leaders which turns into Vice President or Directors, NEED to have strong strategic and people skills that can also think from the business' viewpoint too. But this kind of level, skills, and understanding of the industry really can only come from years of exposure to the industry. Being mid-30 is too young to be in those roles, unless you go into consulting first and have been exposed to a lot of various engineering issues or industry. Experience allows you to understand the whole big picture.


Posted Tuesday 7th June 2011 02:03:00 AM


I agree with the doc. Charisma isn’t everything. Having said that, it’s definitely a desirable characteristic as far as leadership goes. Why don’t you brush up on your public speaking skills by joining a toastmasters club or something? You might never become a great communicator, but you could still learn to better articulate your ideas.

Career Doctor

Posted Wednesday 18th May 2011 01:44:23 AM


This is what I found online in Wikipedia; the "theory" of "Leadership": Leadership is "organizing a group of people to achieve a common goal." The leader may or may not have any formal authority. Students of leadership have produced theories involving traits, situational interaction, function, behavior, power, vision and values, charisma, and intelligence among others. A charismatic leader? Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, and Mandela to name a few, and the truth is, so very few! More from Wikipedia: "Leadership has been described as the ‘process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task’“. So you're a shy engineer who doesn't talk much, that doesn't mean you can't be a good leader, right? Shy or not you need to learn to communicate and cooperate with others. Don't focus only on yourself and your job, but pay attention to what's happening around you, and be prepared to lend a helping hand to assist others in completing and accomplishing their tasks. Just curious, your boss does demonstrate good leadership, ever thought of learning from him?