This is Part I of a six-part series on debunking misconceptions about leadership and speaking with authority for engineers preparing for their first professional leadership role.
Starting out in any endeavor you lack experience. In business, in relationships, in your technical pursuits – doesn’t matter. You enter into everything you do for the first time without experience and the only way to get the experience is to go out into the world and just do it. As it is in every undertaking in life, so it is with leadership.
I didn’t begin feeling entirely confident in leading others until well into my military career. It wasn’t that I lacked the theory of leadership or mentors or the opportunities to lead while in college ROTC. My lack of confidence in my leading ability came from one gap: experience. The training I had while at college prepared me by providing me with a body of knowledge about leadership. The hands-on experiences leading other people and projects came many years later.
If you’ve not lead other people or a project before, you’ve still been exposed to this “experience gap”. You’ve got the knowledge; you just lack the boots-on-ground aspect. The good stuff that comes from experiencing it first-hand.
Before getting into the four components that helped me bridge the experience gap, a quote that’s stuck with me from early in my career: [Read more…]