This is a guest blog by Steve Soldati, P.E.
Picture this: It’s 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning, you’re thinking about where to go for lunch, but you are still waiting for a response from your project team member. You had requested this information via email three weeks ago and every few days you get a, “You should have it soon.” You sent an email earlier that morning asking for an update on the project designs and calculations to incorporate into your plan set, which is due in just one week, but still no word. You go off to lunch, steaming and upset about the lack of urgency and communication of your colleagues.
When you arrive back at the office, you open your inbox to see an email from your team member with the requested design and calculations. “Yes, finally!” you shout out loud. But when you open the email, the design is incomplete, and your team member has additional questions that should have been asked much earlier. You storm over to their desk to chew them out and tell them how poorly they performed. You tell them they need to communicate better, learn to design properly, and take responsibility for their work. Then you head back to your desk to rework the design, spending many additional hours to get it ready for the upcoming deadline. And you grow even more frustrated and stressed because there is still so much on your plate that needs to be done, but you are now worried that won’t happen. This causes you to become even more uneasy, cranky, and unpleasant to be around.
Does this sound familiar? Either for yourself or someone you work with? Is this someone you would want to work with or for?
Unfortunately, this happens more times than it should—not because that’s “just how it is,” or “there was no other way to do it,” but rather because of a lack of leadership. Yes, this is the real issue here: leadership.
Leadership is more than having the title “boss” or “manager”—it’s about what you do with the people around you. Think about the way you can communicate and treat your colleagues that will result in a successful and positive project. Consider some of these questions:
- How would you want your boss to communicate with you?
- What information or context would you want to know so you can provide the best solution?
- What tools do you need to succeed?
- Do you understand the expectation?
All of these questions are easy to come up with when you are the one having to perform and accomplish the tasks, but harder when you delegate work to someone else. And when you are the one delegating these tasks, you have the pressure of worrying about schedules and budgets, which can cause you to lose sight of what’s happening with your team. But that’s not an excuse for not exercising good leadership principles.
This doesn’t just go for a manager-subordinate relationship—this goes for any person-to-person relationship. Here are a few more questions to consider:
- Where is your ego?
- How are you communicating?
- Are you offering a helping hand?
- Are you sharing information for the benefit of the team?
- What are YOU doing for your team to help make the team better?
- Are you being someone YOU would want to work with?
These are the questions that you should be asking yourself.
To be a leader, it doesn’t mean you need to have the title manager, or vice president, or department head, or even team leader. It’s not about titles—it’s about what you do for the people around you. For you to be successful, the team needs to be successful. Take a step back, take a deep breath, and think about what you can do to make a difference. Leadership starts with you, not waiting for someone else to change. So what are you going to do next?
About Steve Soldati, P.E.
Steve Soldati, P.E. is a registered civil engineer in Florida and California. He attended the California State University, Chico, where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. He has over 10 years of industry experience working in various roles within construction, project/program management, sales, and asset management. Steve was an officer of the ASCE Student Chapter at his college and currently serves on the board of the Florida Engineering Society Central Florida Chapter. He brings a well-rounded perspective to the challenges that many agencies face with asset management and aging infrastructure.
We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you might share about how you could become a better leader at your firm so it will be pleasant for others to work with you.
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To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success