In this session of The Engineering Career Coach Podcast, I interview Melinda Tourangeau whom I met at the Engineering Career Success Summit in D.C. where she was an attendee and a very active one. She will share some characteristics about technical leadership based on her PhD research.
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” – Steve Jobs
In the Take Action Today segment of the show, Melinda is going to give you a piece of advice to help you tackle the question of should you continue on the technical or managerial track as an engineer.
Melinda is a third-year doctoral student in the Ed.D. Leadership and Learning program at Rivier University, focusing on the characteristics of technical leadership, and their relationship to technical professionals. She has a Bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, a Masters of Science in Electrical Engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology, and an MBA from Northeastern University. She spent the first part of her professional career as a software engineer. After obtaining her MBA, she moved into engineering management. She is currently employed as a program manager at Northrop Grumman Corporation.
Listen to this session and learn about Melinda’s research on technical leadership including:
- Engineering managers face a lot of challenges today in leadership mainly because leadership is not taught in engineering schools.
- Most of the resources today about transitioning from technical professionals to technical managers are based on experience and observation and are not based on research.
- Two ways to measure and explore the characteristics of technical leadership:
- Quantitative – using an established survey like the Multi-Factor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ5X) that can generate numerical data for statistical analysis.
- Qualitative – using semi-structured interviews or ethnographic study of the managers and their subordinates and see if it matches up with the quantitative results.
- It takes time and effort to become an engineering manager. You have to improve certain skills but the reward is fulfilling.
- Try taking a self assessment as a leader and also get feedback from people around you about your leadership style.
- Melinda reviews some of the details of her research and how she plans to present it to the technical community, hoping to assist technical professionals become the best leaders they can possibly be.
If you have any empirical reports or journals about technical leadership that you would like to share with Melinda or if you are interested in participating the MLQ5X survey- Melinda is in need of 100 leaders, please contact me at our Ask Us page or simply e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources and links mentioned in this session include:
Sponsor for this session:
How do you see yourself as a leader?
We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you might share about how your technical leadership has provided positive impact on people around you.
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