The Quickest Path to Engineering Management is Through Accountability

The Quickest Path to Engineering Management is Through Accountability

Figure 1: Here's a caption related to my second story at the end of this post.
 The Quickest Path to Engineering Management is Through Accountability
 
 
Since I left my career as a practicing engineer, I’ve been around the block a few times in terms of providing training to engineering professionals related to becoming effective managers and powerful leaders. I’ve visited over thirty States and have spoken at hundreds of venues in front of thousands of engineers.  Through all of that, I’ve learned one very valuable lesson that I’d like to share in this post that can be applied to your engineering career and to your life on a broader scale. Accountability matters. With it we can do amazing things. Without it, not so much. 

What is accountability?  

The word accountable is defined as (of a person, organization, or institution) required or expected to justify actions or decisions; responsible. "parents could be held accountable for their children's actions" [1]

Who is holding you accountable in your career?  

Most engineering professionals are focused on one primary thing, their projects. That makes sense. However, if I told you that in addition to your technical skills, you must develop your core or interpersonal skills to become a great engineering manager, would you do it? Your answer to this question would most likely be, “Yes, of course, I’ll do it.” In fact, hundreds of engineers have given me that answer, but a much smaller number followed through. Why? Lack of accountability.

At the Engineering Management Institute, we figured this out a few years ago, and have spent time building accountability measures into all of our coaching and training programs. While this has really boosted the effectiveness of our training, for me personally, it has provided a valuable life lesson on the power of accountability.  You need it. Believe me you need it, especially if you want to develop the skills necessary to be an engineering leader in the future.

Two Stories on Accountability  

To reinforce this, let me share two stories with you from my own experience, one career related and one personal example.  When I was a young practicing engineer (for the record, I still consider myself a young engineer), I received a phone call one day from the CEO of the firm I was working for. He told me about a new initiative at the firm where they wanted a certain number of people to seek the LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP) accreditation, and I was one of them.  

I immediately recognized that this was a huge opportunity for me. The CEO personally asking me to seek a new accreditation. Huge. As soon as I hung up the phone, I visited the website for the exam, signed up, and sent an email back to him and my supervisor letting them know the exact date that I would be taking the exam. Boom. Instant accountability.

From that minute until exam time, I studied like crazy. Not only because the CEO asked me to, but because he and my boss knew when I would be taking the exam, and I couldn’t let them down. Needless to say, I passed the exam, and was the first in the firm to secure accreditation, which means I capitalized on that opportunity. Accountability.
My second story is much more recent, just a month ago. My wife and I like to take our three children hiking at a beautiful reservation about twenty minutes from our home. There is a beautiful hiking trail that leads to a waterfall, amongst other wonderful trails. The problem is we only go a few times a year. Why? Life happens, and when push comes to shove, getting our three children ready and driving 20 minutes to hike becomes an easy thing to pass on.

I decided not long ago to utilize accountability to force us to hike more. I wrote a post on our town’s Mom and Dads’ Facebook Group. I explained that my wife and I like to take the children hiking to this reservation and would love for other families to join us when they can. We had over 200 comments on the post from parents saying things like, “We’d love to go but we’re not familiar with the place, we’re so glad you volunteered to lead us.” I couldn’t keep track of the responses, so I created a simple Google form, collected names and email addresses, and promised to lead a weekly hike and to email the weekly hike details out every Monday.

So far, in just two weeks, 180 families have signed up, and more importantly, we have hiked twice. The first time, we had almost thirty people. However, the second time, a weekday evening, there were only nine of us. But whether we get nine or ninety people to join us, my family is there. We have to be. We’re the leaders. Accountability.
Now I just have to figure out what to do when we go on vacation. Who will lead the weekly hike. Oh yes, delegation. That's a great topic for another article.  So the next time you think to yourself, “I really want to get promoted to engineering manager,” don’t forget to hold yourself accountable. It truly is the quickest path to get there.  Anthony Fasano, PE -- Engineering Management Institute

[email protected] | 201-857-2384  [1] Dictionary.com

 
                                                               Anthony Fasano, PE, F. ASCE

About:
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: 
► EngineeringManagementInstitute.org  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: 
► http://www.AskAnthony.blog/  “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  I accept invites from all engineering professionals, so please connect with me today

Specialties:
-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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