Leadership Is About Leverage


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This article is courtesy of Engineering.com:

Putting leverage to work on the job means tapping into the knowledge, skills, an capacity of others. As an engineer, you get the concept of leverage: a measure of the force amplification achieved by using a tool, mechanical device or machine system. Your employees or project team members aren’t ‘tools’, but the concept of leverage holds true in the context of amplifying force to achieve something.

Applied to your role as a leader, leverage is about taking the force of your idea or objective, selecting the right tool for the job, then achieving the desired end result. The right tools are the experts you select to help you bring your idea to fruition. You may be truly a “renaissance” expert, someone skilled at all aspects of engineering, project delivery, finance, and stakeholder management. But you cannot scale yourself to take on increasingly complex projects, programs, and clients. At a certain point, you have to leverage others to help you.

As a leader you leverage others to achieve more. The science of leverage is as simple as understanding the basic science of Newton’s Laws. You have an objective, you tell people what to do and what needs to be done, they do it, and you then achieve your intended outcome. Simple.

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It’s the art of leverage that’s no so easy to employ. Start with:

1. Vision. This is the force that you’ll apply to align others to get the things that need to be done, done. Without a clear, concise, and easily transmitted vision you and everyone following you will be all thrust, no vector.

2. Know Your People. Dictators leverage people by coercion and the boot. Leaders leverage people by knowing them: their skills, personalities, goals, aspirations, and weaknesses.  The art of leverage entails putting people to work on the tasks that optimize their passion and skill.

3. Apply Force Through Momentum. Having a clear vision and knowing your people are important, but they don’t amount to anything if there isn’t forward motion. Take action.  This is the force that will put the machine to work bringing your vision into reality.

As a leader, getting things done solo is interesting. It’s getting things done by leveraging the capabilities and capacities of others that’s compelling.

“Man can either buy his wisdom or borrow it. By buying it, he pays full price in personal time and treasure. By borrowing it, he capitalizes on the lessons learned from the failures of others.”  Benjamin Franklin

Christian Knutson, P.E., PMP is a leader, civil engineer, and author. He’s an accomplished professional specializing in A/E/C work internationally and author of The Engineer Leader, a recognized blog on leadership and life success for engineers and professionals.

This article was originally published on Engineering.com and is reprinted in its entirety with permission. For more stories like this please visit Engineering.com. 

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