Being a leader in the IEEE is one of the best jobs in the world. Note that I did not say hobby or pastime; this is a job with much greater rewards than salary; or, as the US Peace Corps likes to say, it's the toughest job you'll ever love. You are a volunteer because of your love and support for the profession. You are driven by a belief in technology and in those who will use it to shape the future. But you need tools to succeed at that job, and that is why we are here. What are those tools and how will we use them?
Long ago, on the first day of my first engineering job, my hiring manager took me aside and taught me one of the most valuable lessons I ever learned in engineering. He told me to always watch carefully the engineers around me and look for the best of the best, to associate myself with them, to ask them to mentor me. Secondly, he told me to watch for those who were eager and in need of mentoring or coaching and offer to mentor them. Thirdly, he cautioned me to watch for the "bad" engineers and avoid them whenever possible. Little did I know that the worst engineer in our company - who I had taken to shunning regularly - would succeed my boss and become my new boss. Soon I learned another job skill: changing employers. However, the first two lessons I learned have stuck with me, guided me, and made my engineering career richer and more rewarding. And I want to share those two lessons with you.
What is leadership? Leadership is about learning and teaching, mentoring and being mentored, serving and being served, sowing seeds and reaping 100-fold. In his best-selling book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki tells of his best friend's father, who chose to mentor him on financial matters. The author recounts one of his most valuable lessons:
"In addition to being good learners, sellers, and marketers, we need to be good teachers as well as good students. To be truly rich, we need to be able to give as well as receive. In cases of financial or professional struggle, there is often a lack of giving and receiving. I know many people who are poor because they are neither good students nor good teachers"
So what is leadership development in Region 3? Is it the wisest sage in the region teaching you all he or she knows about doing business with the IEEE? If that were the case, I would certainly not be the Region's Leadership Development Chair. Leadership Development is about all of us being willing to teach and to mentor others while being willing to learn and be mentored ourselves. Just as there is more to electrical engineering than the simple flow of electrons or the sequence of computer code execution, leadership and the process of developing leaders is more than just learning the mechanics of IEEE (which are, of course, important and are part of our training). Rather it is the process of helping volunteers learn how to become leaders - great leaders, successful leaders - acquiring and honing skills that you will carry (and will carry you) for the rest of your lives. It is my true and honest belief that the best kept secret in our profession is that the best management school for EE's is not at any university but is right here right now: active volunteer leadership in the IEEE.
But how do we get started? Where are the tools to help us succeed as IEEE volunteer leaders? They are found in many places. First off, there are bylaws at every level of the IEEE, including your local section or area/council. These are the "rules" of how things need to operate. There are also great resources available at my website at http://ewh.ieee.org/r3/leadership/ . Here we have links to a number of documents and PowerPoint presentations that can be presented as part of leadership training by myself or one of many other experienced leaders in Region 3. We are continuously working to improve the resources that we have available in Region 3 and elsewhere, both within and outside the IEEE. We are also listening to you, the leaders, to see what needs you think we may need and what ways we can make you and your fellow leaders, potential leaders, and future leaders more successful - in your IEEE career, your paying career, and in life itself.
I recently went on a family vacation that was a mixture of emotions; this was the first trip together since a parent had died, and the mood went from mourning loss to celebrating a life. The thing that became apparent during the trip, however, was that I soon saw the missing parent in all of the people there: the humor, the skills, the ready knowledge had been imparted over the years, creating a legacy that will live on. Indeed, as Max Dupree of the Drucker organization put it, a great leader - or a successful organization for that matter - leaves a legacy that all can see. Looking around, I see a lot of legacies that have been left and are currently being created within the IEEE. In many cases, these legacies are created by the never-ending process of developing others within the IEEE to be current and future leaders. Can you become a legacy in the IEEE and in the profession? Sure you can. Look around you for tomorrow's leaders, tomorrow's stars; take one by the hand, be a coach, be a friend, be a mentor. Need help? Take a star by the hand. Can't find one? Ask me or any of the other leaders you see listed in this newsletter. Together we will help one another be the future, the legacy of the IEEE.