Tag Archives: Leadership

Damned Figment of the Imagination

“It is a great profession. There is the fascination of watching a figment of the imagination emerge through the aid of science to a plan on paper. Then it moves to realization in stone or metal or energy. Then it brings jobs and homes to men. Then it elevates the standards of living and adds to the comforts of life. That is the engineer’s high privilege.

The great liability of the engineer compared to men of other professions is that his works are out in the open where all can see them. His acts, step by step, are in hard substance. He cannot bury his mistakes in the grave like the doctors. He cannot argue them into thin air or blame the judge like the lawyers. He cannot, like the architects, cover his failures with trees and vines. He cannot, like the politicians, screen his shortcomings by blaming his opponents and hope the people will forget. The engineer simply cannot deny he did it. If his works do not work, he is damned…

On the other hand, unlike the doctor his is not a life among the weak. Unlike the soldier, destruction is not his purpose. Unlike the lawyer, quarrels are not his daily bread. To the engineer falls the job of clothing the bare bones of science with life, comfort, and hope. No doubt as years go by the people forget which engineer did it, even if they ever knew. Or some politician puts his name on it. Or they credit it to some promoter who used other people’s money . . . But the engineer himself looks back at the unending stream of goodness which flows from his successes with satisfactions that few professions may know. And the verdict of his fellow professionals is all the accolade he wants.”

-Herbert Hoover

Leaders With Over-Inflated Egos

Today I ran across a blog post from a former professor in grad school titled “a reminder for managers and leaders” and contained just the following picture.

As soon as I saw this I knew I had to write my own post. I’ve been both a leader and a follower on many teams and have always been surprised when the manager takes credit for the teams success. The team spent months of there life solving the problem, designing the solution, and doing all the grunt work to actually make it happen and the manager ends up taking the credit? In these scenarios, I guarantee the team will not execute nearly as well the next go around. As a manager, it is a fundamental mistake to take credit for the collective actions of your team.

I’ve seen it happen over and over. This sense of entitlement is particularly high in the start up world, where over-inflated egos can be found on ever corner. Now, I’m not naive enough to believe the manager deserves none of the credit (the good ones deserve a lot). My point is that a great leader/manager will always put the team first and themselves second.

What can a great leader/manager always take full credit for? Failure. Thats it.