The Best Kept Secret

Charles J. Lord, P.E.
Region 3 Leadership Development Chair

 How would you like to help shape the future? Would you like to make a difference in how our profession goes forward?  Do you like to work with people and to help people?  What about a risk-free environment to hone your leadership and management skills?  You should seriously consider a volunteer position in your local IEEE section.

 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. Engineers volunteer in the IEEE because of their love and support for the profession. We are driven by a belief in technology and in those who will use it to shape the future. But we need tools to succeed at that job, and that is why the position of Leadership Development exists in our Region.

Mentoring is Not Dead

 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"

Leadership Development in Region 3

 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 have been asked to 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 . 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.

Be a Legacy

 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. A great example of this can be seen in the legacy of Dan Jackson, who is remembered and honored in this newsletter. 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.

What Do We Offer?

Leadership Development can take many forms, from a few hours of training at an administrative meeting to a full weekend retreat that rivals anything in Corporate America. We are constantly updating and creating new modules to meet the needs of our many volunteers.  Here are some of the modules that make up Region 3’s Leadership Training:

Intro to IEEE Region 3 Leadership - where do we fit in the “big picture” and why are we here?

IEEE Leadership 2004 - the “nuts and bolts” of how a section operates, who to call for what and where the resources are.

Communications Basics for Sections - how we use all the communication “tools” available to us to communicate and work with one another and how we communicate-both ways-with our members.

Time Management - we can’t give you an extra hour each day but we can help you find it.

Learning Styles - How to teach someone if they are aural, visual, or kinetic- and how to tell.

Presentation Skills - Yes, it scares all of us.  But come and learn in a fun, safe environment.  In the long version, you get to practice!  Requires some advance pre-work.

Personality Types - Uses Jungian (Myers-Briggs) type and teaches not only what you are and how you interact with people but how to deal with the other types.  Requires pre-work (a fun, easy test to determine your personality type).  Long version includes a group activity to discuss a case study to practice “typing” and determining best course of action.

Conflict Styles - Teaches Thomas-Kearney Conflict Styles and what your native style is and how you have to adapt to different situations. Requires pre-work (a fun, easy test to determine your natural conflict style). Long version includes a group activity to discuss a case study to practice resolving conflict and determining others’ styles.

Projects - A quick look at a little-known fun activity and on-the-job training for management: Projects!  Ideas for section / area / council / region level projects, including examples of past projects and sources for funding.

Conference Basics - One of the best projects a section, area, or council can carry out is a seminar, workshop, or conference.  Whether you want to host an existing conference or “roll your own”, we give you the basics of how to plan and carry out a successful conference, including a look at the rules as well as the many resources available throughout the IEEE.

Project Management - How to plan, manage, and carry out successful projects.

Vision, Mission, and Strategic Planning - Does your section have a vision of where it wants to be?  Do you have a plan? Goals?  Have you ever done strategic planning?  Come learn how!

So how do you get started?  Check your local section newsletter or web site for upcoming meetings and get involved.  Call or e-mail your local section chair.  Not sure who to call or what your local section is?  Contact me and I will get you in contact with the right people.  Already a volunteer and want to find out more about training?  Contact your area / council chair - or, again, contact me if you are not sure where to go.  We are here to help you succeed. Together we will help one another be the future, the legacy of the IEEE.

IEEE Region 3 eNewsletter Volume 19 No. 1, January 2004, © 2004 IEEE
IEEE HQ | IEEE Region 3 |
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.