- Published on Tuesday, 02 December 1997 19:12
- Written by Jean Hollands
Jean on the Job
Last week we talked about MIT's alumni groups request that I talk about the charismatic engineer. I proposed that to be charismatic and collaborative, an engineer, and all the rest of us, need to motivate others to act. With inspiration needed first, we urge others to want to act. With motivation, we urge others to act - to do it!
Engineering schools don't teach cheerleading. Now, the engineers who go into the field of sales, or who are even exposed to sales calls or trips with field sales, are privileged to a new language. Frankly, I think every classic engineer needs to learn every tool in the sales trade.
Listening for objections is one tool which many engineers miss. It is very hard for them to reflect back another's perception if they don't agree with it. Learn to say, "I guess if I lived in your shoes I might also feel that way" before you tell someone his logic is off and the whole idea is not worthy of your brain time.
Randall White, of The Future of Leadership, claims that "white water leaders seek out contention and disagreement." Some of the engineer readers may now object to me at this junction, with, "but I don't want to be a leader. I am an individual contributor." As our technical world gets more complex and our products require more collaboration, it will be hard to escape into individual contribution.
Consider that being able to inspire others provides partners in your collaborative endeavors. People who are committed to a particular course seem more motivated than others, but if you don't think you are charismatic, let me urge you to take up a cause. Learning to express how much you care, and learning to motivate others to care about what you care about can be a wonderful exercise for your new charisma.
Engineers I know have practiced this caring at the Sierra Club, the Save the Whales, the Recycling Center, the Family Planning Center, and, magically, they have become persuasive. Didn't we start out with the definition last week that charisma is the magic leadership of arousing special loyalty?
Jean Hollands, CEO of the Growth & Leadership Center, is an author, a management coach and a corporate team-builder. Write to GLC, 1451 Grant Road, Mountain View