Qualities of a leader

Jul 22, 2019

When identifying your next generation of leaders, there are some qualities you should look for, and some you should avoid.

Whether you are the leader of an architectural firm or engineering firm or any firm for that matter, it’s in your best interest to have a road map for future leaders. Every AEC firm will have to go through leadership transition at one stage or another. So, how do you identify these leaders and what are some of the qualities these leaders should have?

From my 16 years of experience working in the civil engineering industry and from the knowledge I’ve gained reading articles and books about leadership, I’ve identified the following qualities that set a great leader apart:

  • They think in terms of solutions to problems. Leaders identify the underlying problem in any given situation and come up with a solution rather than complicating matters further.
  • They communicate effectively. Effective communication is one of the top qualities of a leader. Clear instructions to team members are vital for the success of any project. A knowledgeable leader communicates effectively and provides clear instructions on how to get a job done.
  • They’re proactive. Leaders are proactive and take responsibility for their choices. On the other hand, reactive people take a passive stance.
  • They look for a win-win. Leaders analyze the situation and provide options that are often beneficial to all parties involved. A leader is also a good negotiator.
  • They value honesty and integrity. Honesty and integrity are the most important qualities of a leader. A leader will gain the trust of others by doing what is right at any cost. Building trust takes time but being honest at all times can make this happen faster.
  • They’re invested. Leaders often have a long-term personal sense of investment in the company and its success.

In addition to what I described above, a good leader has sound subject knowledge, is a good mentor, respects others’ opinions, motivates the team, does not micromanage, and shows consideration for others.

What leadership is not about:

  • Control. It is a common misconception that leaders like to control everything. Instead, they understand that talented people do not need/like to be supervised closely. Leaders know that their team needs guidance and support rather than control. If you crave power, you may not be a good leader.
  • Overconfidence. Being confident is one of the qualities of a good leader but overconfidence can be dangerous and may lead to situations that he/she can’t handle.
  • Breaking promises. A good leader makes commitments he/she intends to keep but one who breaks promises constantly can’t be a good leader.

If you want to be a good leader, understand and follow the qualities discussed here. And, if your firm is in search of the next leader, look for these qualities.

Naveen Khammampati, P.E., CFM is director of engineering at Greg Edwards Engineering Services, Inc. Contact him at naveen@gees.us.

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.