Management versus Leadership

As the first generation of overseas Vietnamese mature, we will have opportunity to move into management. This series will now move towards more management topic, but we will welcome engineering oriented articles.

Engineering manager, or engineering leader? Which are you? Which do you want to be? Defining yourself as one or the other could ultimately decide your career destiny. According to Gabriel Hevesi (Checklist for Leaders, Productivity Press), leadership is a mix of skills, attitude, will, and motivation. "To become a leader, you must want it, work at it." Managing, he observes, "is an assignment, a job." A middle management job in many organizations, especially large ones is a no-win deal, comments Karl Albrecht (Creating Leaders for Tomorrow, Productivity Press). "Middle managers often feel themselves hemmed in by policies, procedures, and rules of someone else�s making, and at the same time they feel under pressure to innovate, communicate, and make change. They feel pressure from the top and demands from the bottom." Hevisi counters: "A leader uses judgment when under pressure from above to be iron-handed and pressure from below to delegate all."

Enfranchising engineering managers as leaders. Albrecht argues that the middle management problem is really a problem of role confusion not competence. The solution must come through role clarification. He suggests three things have to happen for engineering managers to become the kind of leader needed by their organization. They need to:

The most important change for engineering managers to adopt is a new mind-set. "The old mind-set is one of administration, procedure, approval and disapproval, and passively reacting to events and problems presented by others," Albrecht explains. The new mind-set must be proactive, entrepreneurial in focus, broader in scope, and more business-focused than in the past. Hevesi, meanwhile describes a leader as "applying common sense and avoiding extremes; directing rather than dominating; involved, but not lost in details; and delegating without trying to avoid ultimate responsibility."

Making the transition to engineering management leadership. Engineering managers who want to move from the old role of bureaucrat to a new one of entrepreneurial leader should do the following:

There are many models for leadership. No one is a panacea. However, many are workable. It is less important which one you follow, rather to exploit the most useful features of several. Therefore, we present two for consideration. A 12-point checklist for leaders (see accompanying table), developed by Hevesi offers practical suggestions that can be applied now by engineering managers. The following "six dimensions of service leadership" is a model used extensively by Albrecht. He maintains that leaders, including engineering leaders, are called upon to provide service leadership. He argues that the old "command-and-control" style no longer fits contemporary social values and is no longer effective. Instead, leaders must now have a service focus: service to the customer, to the employees, and to the organization. Albrecht�s six "dimensions" are:

Checklist for Leaders - A Guide for Day-by-Day Decision and Actions
  1. Emergence of a leader
  2. Leaders exercise common sense and sound judgment
  3. Leaders lead
  4. Leaders communicate
  5. Leaders negotiate
  6. Leaders holding meetings
  7. Leaders make presentations
  8. Leaders build teams
  9. Leaders plan
  10. Leaders are efficient
  11. Leaders promote change
  12. Leaders make decisions, solve problems, use experience
(Source: Gabriel Hevesi, Checklist for Leaders)

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