Why engineers often aren't good managers

I often follow the postings of Bob Lewis, who runs a consulting firm called IT Catalysts, Inc. This week his missive hits particularly close to home for engineers-turned-managers. Successful engineers, he argues, tend to be successful because they are good at figuring things out for themselves and putting in whatever time is necessary to get a job done. Managers, on the other hand, have to be good at delegating and organizing, which are totally different skills.

As Lewis relates, "The good ones understand that while they remain accountable for the results, they're supposed to give both responsibility and authority to the employee to whom they've assigned whatever task or goal it is that they've delegated. Too many engineers-turned-managers understand this only in their pre-frontal cortexes (cortices?), not their intestines -- in theory, that is, but not when the rubber of that's-how-I'm-supposed-to-delegate meets the road of maybe-the-assignee-won't-get-it-done-right. Worse, engineers being what they (we) are, 'right' generally means 'how I would have done it.' "

Unfortunately, I see a bit of myself in Lewis' observations. I suspect it is the same for a lot of engineers out there.

You can read Lewis' entire post here: http://www.issurvivor.com/

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The Editor’s Desk focuses on the engineering profession and its impact on society, trends in engineering compensation, and the education of engineers.


Lee Teschler

Leland serves as Editor-in-Chief of Machine Design. He has 34 years of Service and holds a B.S. Engineering from the University of Michigan, a B.S. Electrical Engineering from the University of...
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