Survey: Engineers' skills lacking for CEO post
According to the latest ASQ survey conducted by Kelton Global, the qualities workers value most in their company's leaders are the same qualities they find most lacking. Thirty percent of workers surveyed stated that honesty is the trait they value most in their company's leaders, while 22 percent cite communication skills. Critical thinking and commitment also were noted as key leadership qualities at 11 percent and 10 percent, respectively, the survey also indicated.
Yet those surveyed said communicating well (20 percent) and honesty (16 percent) also are the qualities they believe to be leaders' biggest shortcomings.
The survey, which was fielded in January in advance of National Engineers Week, Feb. 16-22, was conducted in conjunction with a survey of ASQ member engineers exploring their opportunities and desires to be corporate leaders and the skills needed to be successful.
Like those who responded to the Kelton survey, nearly 30 percent of ASQ member engineers cite honesty as the skill most important to being an effective leader, followed by communication skills at 20 percent.
According to the engineers polled by ASQ, 69 percent said their skill set provides a solid foundation for a successful CEO. However, only nine percent of workers surveyed for ASQ by Kelton said engineers would make the best CEOs, behind those in operations (23 percent), finance (17 percent), marketing (14 percent), academia (13 percent) and sales (11 percent).
"Despite the fact that some of the greatest business leaders in history, from Henry Ford to Lee Iacocca, have been engineers, many people don't connect engineers with the boardroom," said Cheryl Birdsong-Dyer, an ASQ member and professional process engineer. "But engineers who can combine their analytical and critical thinking skills with strong communication ability can be a powerful asset when it comes to top-level decision making."
According to the ASQ survey of member engineers, 61 percent are currently in a management or leadership role, with nearly 75 percent overseeing up to nine employees, and 14 percent supervising 10-19 employees. Of the engineers who have attained a leadership position at their organization, 65 percent said certifications, like the ones offered by ASQ, have played a key role in achieving the position.
"Many of the quality engineers that we see in management positions take advantage of a variety of training and educational opportunities to ensure a well-rounded skill set," said ASQ CEO Paul Borawski.
Sixty-nine percent of the respondents of the ASQ member survey said engineering skills provide a strong base for a successful CEO. Furthermore, of the 39 percent of engineers polled who are not in a leadership role, 20 percent have no interest in reaching a leadership role, while only 16 percent have a high interest in attaining a leadership role, according to the survey of engineers.