Engineering Survey: Engineers in Leadership Roles

In a recent survey for ASQ conducted by Kelton Global, U.S. workers identified honesty and communications as key traits they want to see in corporate leaders. A poll by ASQ of its global member engineers worldwide shows they, too, feel honesty and communications are essential to successful leadership.

However, it’s those same traits that workers surveyed by Kelton say are the most lacking, with 20% saying communicating well and 16% citing honesty as leaders’ shortcomings.

In advance of Engineers Week, we also asked workers what backgrounds best prepare CEOs. According to the Kelton Global survey, only 9% said engineers would make the best corporate leaders, falling severely behind those in the fields of Operations (23%), Finance (17%), Marketing (14%), Academia (13%), and Sales (11%).

Engineers have a different view, though, with 69 percent saying their skill set provides a solid foundation for a successful CEO, according to the ASQ member survey — citing skills like analytical thinking and problem-solving.

According to the Kelton Global survey, workers value to the following traits in company leadership:

  • Honesty—30%
  • Communication—22%
  • Critical Thinking—11%
  • Commitment—10%

Traits most lacking in company leadership

  • Communicating Well—20%
  • Honesty—16%

As we start National Engineers Week, this information is as valuable as ever. In the survey conducted of ASQ member engineers, 61% were already in a leadership position, and of the remaining, 16% indicated a high interest in attaining a leadership role. For those looking to advance, how can engineers break the stigma of lacking integrity and having poor communication skills?

About the Surveys

The ASQ leadership survey was conducted by Kelton Global between Jan. 2 and Jan. 9 among 1,027 nationally representative Americans ages 18 and older using an email invitation and an online survey. Margin of error = +/- 3.1 percent. The poll of ASQ member engineers was conducted between Jan. 2 and Jan. 16 among 444 ASQ members around the world who identify themselves as engineers using an email invitation and online poll.

3 thoughts on “Engineering Survey: Engineers in Leadership Roles”

  1. According to the Kelton Global survey, only 9% said engineers would make the best corporate leaders, falling severely behind those in the fields of Operations (23%), Finance (17%), Marketing (14%), Academia (13%), and Sales (11%).

    The statement above makes it seem as though engineers are excluded from Operations. Most of my career experience has been in technical manufacturing (defense electronics, medical devices, and others) and my observation is that most of the people in Operations management (supervisor and above) had some type of engineering degree. I have a hunch a survey of CEOs would find quite a few engineers leading their company.

  2. This seems to be a quality issue, I.E. quality/integrity of leadership. To me this seems unacceptable, if we cannot trust the engineers in our field, then who are we supposed to trust. My feeling is that the only way to improve Engineer’s integrity is to remove anyone that has shown a lack of leadership skills or integrity. Evaluation and further education seem to be the only way to overcome this problem. Does anyone have any opinion on how we can improve the quality of this leadership?

  3. Engineers are a back bone to most developments in industries and commerce on the global outlook. Their leadership roles are as a result of an evolution and not a change in trend from the profession they have being practicing. They are as well placed better to lead in related technical establishment where the interpretation of standard conformity; the following of specific procedures; obedience to rules and vital regulations; safety observations, all together leads to the perfect delivery of a utilizable product or service.

    To me, the notion that Engineers are not ‘good leaders’ is not justifiable on performance ability, but rather on professional status of individual members with hardened interest.

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