One Key Strategy That Engineering Managers Can Learn From Vince Lombardi – Create Momentum Through Short-Term Wins

One Key Strategy That Engineering Managers Can Learn From Vince Lombardi – Create Momentum Through Short-Term Wins

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 One Key Strategy That Engineering Managers Can Learn From Vince Lombardi – Create Momentum Through Short-Term Wins

Vince Lombardi, one of the greatest football coaches of all time, inherited a Green Bay Packers football team in 1959 that went 1-10-1 the year before. His first season, they improved to 7-5 and they made it to the Super Bowl the next three seasons, winning two championships. I’d say that’s a quick turnaround.  I recently read the book, The Lombardi Rules by Vince Lombardi Jr. and one of the rules that really interested me, and I felt was applicable to engineering management, was what he referred to as Motivate by Degrees instead of taking an all-or-nothing approach.  
Here’s an important excerpt from the book to capture this sentiment:
IF in the summer of 1959, Coach Lombardi had talked exclusively about a world championship to a 1-10-1 team, he would have lost them. He would have been too far out in front. Talking “championship” would have been demotivating.  Lombardi understood that winning a championship would be but the last in a series of victories. To win the NFL Championship, the Packers needed to win the conference championship. To win their conference championship they had to win their division. 
To win the division title, they needed to win more games than other teams in their division.  Over the course of a long season, victories come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Victory in a particular game, for example, requires the accomplishment of goals on offense, defense, and special teams. Goals are further broken down by position. Every player, moreover, has a goal for each play. 

Winning the championship, therefore, had to be built on the foundation of a thousand small victories. It depended on each player seeing the connection between his daily individual effort and winning the championship. And it depended on motivation and inspiration by degree: people being encouraged by each small victory to move on to the next challenge.

How to Apply this Philosophy as an Engineering Manager  

I know the excerpt was long, but I feel it can be critical to the success of engineering managers and leaders.  If you’re in charge of a multi-million dollar project, while it’s important for your team to try to understand the end goal of delivering a successful project design, what’s more important is that each of them understand how their roles contribute to that end goal, and that they build good habits to allow them to perform to a high standard on every single project.  If an engineer or draftsperson on your team isn’t familiar with your company’s CAD standards and therefore doesn’t follow them, the result of minor errors or misrepresentations on the drawings may be costly and prevent the achievement of the end goal.

If another one of your team members isn’t aware of how to run effective project meetings, they might fail to take good meeting notes, missing some key action items that need to be incorporated into the design. Similar to the CAD errors, this mishap may also be costly and prevent achievement of the end goal.  The point here is simple, but I believe powerful. Instead of preaching to your engineering team about designing successful projects, teach them the fundamentals, and the importance of building good work habits.   If you have a team that is executing on the fundamentals, day after day, they will deliver high quality engineering projects, one after the next, the equivalent of winning many Super Bowls.

Please share your thoughts on this topic below, I am very interested in hearing them, and if you’re looking to help your engineering professionals build their fundamental people management or project management skills, we offer live/interactive recurring programs throughout the year, as well as custom and on-demand options that can be built into your learning management systems and processes.  Our next live sessions start in February 2020 (people skills) and March 2020 (project management skills). If you’re interested in enrolling some of your managers or aspiring managers, or having someone audit the course to start, please contact our office at 201-857-2384. 

Contact Info:  

Anthony Fasano, PE, Engineering Management Institute, 50 East Ridgewood Avenue #129, Ridgewood, NJ 07450  [email protected] | 201-857-2384

Anthony Fasano, PE, F. ASCE

Most civil engineering companies lack training specific to their professionals.  Successful civil engineering professionals need a combination of three skill sets to be successful: 
(1) technical skills, 
(2) project management skills AND (not or) 
(3) people management skills.  
This is the trilogy needed to succeed in the CE world.  Does your firm provide consistent training and support on ALL of these?  I learned this the hard way practicing as a civil engineer myself.  I realized that if I wanted to be a partner in my firm, or if I wanted my team to excel, they needed a good blend of technical, people, and PM skills.  More than ten years ago, I decided that as much as I love doing civil engineering, I wanted to help CE companies become stronger and grow faster through more effective staff development.  Therefore at the Engineering Management Institute (EMI), we’ve developed a core curriculum of both project and people management skill sets.  
We offer routine programs that small CE firms can enroll in and we also customize our programs for larger firms that want to use specific verbiage and guidelines that fit their culture.  For information on our proven process, contact me at our office at 201-857-2384 or message me here on LinkedIn.  You can also learn about our firm here: 
►  In addition to my work at EMI, I was asked to author a Careers & Leadership blog for the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) which allows me to inspire thousands of CEs to grow as engineers and individuals: 
►  “All of our engineers from entry level through upper-level managers have been able to connect with Anthony Fasano of EMI in one way or another. 
His advice is practical and to the point. He is able to engage everyone in the conversation because he is both a good speaker and listener. We are very pleased we found a professional who epitomizes what a successful engineer-leader can be." - VINCENT SIEFERT, P.E., CEO, Siefert Associates

accept invites from all engineering professionals, so please connect with me today. 
-Custom Corporate Training for Civil Engineering Firms 
-Engineering Management and Leadership Training
-Professional Speaker for Engineering Organizations 
-Project Management Training 
-Podcaster for Civil Engineers 
-Engineering Keynote Speaker
-Engineer Leader 
-Bestselling Author

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