This is a guest post by Zachary White
What is the most frustrating problem you are dealing with right now?
The one that keeps you up at night.
Now be honest. How did this happen? What caused the situation? How did this problem end up in your lap? Why are you the one who has to solve this?
95% of engineering leaders answer these questions the same way.
- “My boss is demanding an unrealistic timeline.”
- “The culture at my company is toxic. It’s a leadership problem.”
- “I have unreasonable demands from my supplier.”
- “Insert your own example…”
As a Victim
Before you scoff and scroll to another post, let’s take a quick timeout.
The fact that you are reading this blog says something about you. Growth and development matter to you. Learning how to coach your engineering team and hold them accountable is important to you.
I want to acknowledge you, and let you know I respect you for investing in your leadership.
But, that also means I’m not going to sugarcoat this message.
Nothing will stop growth for you and your team faster than blaming, complaining, and having a victim mindset.
- It’s easier to blame someone else.
- It feels good to complain and shift the focus away from ourselves.
- I’m not responsible if I’m a victim.
Here’s the truth.
It doesn’t matter if you are right. It doesn’t matter if your complaint is perfectly reasonable. It doesn’t matter if someone else deserves the blame. The first and most important key to coaching your team to success is to take radical responsibility. How?
Start with These 3 Radical Responsibility Coaching Tips for Engineering Success:
1. Direct Your FOCUS
Where your focus goes, energy flows. That’s the principle of focus.
(-) Stop focusing on everything negative and how it’s gone wrong.
(+) Start focusing on everything positive and how it’s going right!
(-) Stop focusing on how other people are letting you down.
(+) Start focusing on how you can show up for other people!
(-) Stop focusing on how far it is to the finish line (and how it keeps moving back).
(+) Start focusing on how far you have come (and the challenges you overcame along the way)!
Take radical responsibility for your focus and aim it at solutions, being productive, and showing up at your best. As a leader, help your team become aware of their focus and redirect it by asking questions. A question pulls your focus toward finding the answer. Ask better questions!
2. Curate Your THOUGHTS
What you think creates your life. Changing your thoughts will change your life.
I agree with Zig Ziglar when he said, “You are where you are, and you are what you are, because of what’s gone into your mind. You can change what you are, and you can change where you are, by the process of changing what goes into your mind.”
Consider this shocking statistic. Dr. Joe Dispenza and his research team have discovered that if you are 35 or older, it is likely that 90% of your thoughts today are exactly the same as the ones you had yesterday.
Notice what you are thinking. Turn off autopilot. Then ask, “Are these thoughts steering my career and life toward the success I desire?” I recommend hiring a coach to help you.
3. Own Your DECISIONS
You always have a choice about what to do with what’s in front of you.
I did not say you will always have the options you want! But you are always in control of the final decision among the options you have. Take back your agency. Take back the power of decisive action in your career!
(-) Notice any time you say, “I have to __________.”
(+) Change your words to, “I choose to __________.”
You don’t have to go to work. You don’t have to hit your deadlines. You don’t have to listen to your boss. You don’t have to do anything!
But you choose to, because the consequences of not going to work next week are significant.
Remember, it’s YOUR choice. You own it.
Radical responsibility is a mindset. It starts with taking full control of your focus, thoughts, and decisions. Start with yourself. Remember, leaders go first.
Then share these with your team and encourage them to stop blaming and complaining.
I’ve got good news.
You are not a victim.
About the Author
Zach White is a widely regarded coach known for changing the game in engineering career coaching. He has worked with hundreds of engineering leaders at all levels from top companies worldwide to escape burnout and achieve breakthrough results.
Zach is the Founder and CEO of Oasis of Courage, known as OACO, a fast-growing company with unique and proven coaching programs exclusively for engineers. He also hosts The Happy Engineer Podcast, where listeners discover the steps to engineering success through expert interviews and Zach’s own transformational framework, the Lifestyle Engineering Blueprint.
As a thank you to readers of the EMI blog, Zach is offering a FREE career coaching session while slots are available. To request a session, book an introductory Career Clarity Call by clicking the big orange button on www.oasisofcourage.com
We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you might share about radical responsibility.
Please leave your comments, feedback or questions in the section below.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success