Leadership and Diamonds – the 4 C’s of Quality

Published in WRAL TechWire Insider – July 3, 2017

By Joe Magno, NC COIN Executive Director

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – If you’ve ever shopped for a diamond you’re probably familiar with the Four C’s: Cut, Color, Clarity and Carats. Each C is rated on a 1 to 10 scale.

A diamond that rates highly in all four categories is rare and hard to come by. The qualities and ratings for each of the C’s are easily quantified and certifiable by experts using tools and techniques that have become universally accepted.  So, if you’re looking for a diamond you can compare the Four C’s and, with some research and some money can find the perfect diamond for your taste and pocketbook.

Finding and choosing good leaders for any business or organization, like searching for a diamond, can also be a challenge, especially today. Unfortunately, although there are surveys and tests that claim to be able to evaluate and quantify leadership qualities, for the most part, in the end measuring leadership is a much more difficult task.

If you’re evaluating leaders or looking to find one you might want to keep the Four C’s of Leadership in mind.

  • Competence

Defined as the ability to do something successful or efficiently, most of the time this is the one of the Four C’s that is most is easily recognized, but often not fully appreciated. In judging competence these questions might be helpful: Does the individual have the subject matter knowledge and experience to understand the challenges that he or she might face?  Is the individual competent enough to know what he or she doesn’t know and seek out needed expertise when needed?

  • Credibility

Credibility is the quality of being trusted or believed. Most people have a hard time following someone that they don’t trust or can’t believe.  Real leaders understand that this quality goes deep and that it applies to more than just their subordinates, but also to their superiors and their broader constituency.  The basic questions when it comes to credibility are: “Do you trust this person?” “Are you comfortable with their view of the facts?”

  • Consistency

Some might call this one’s firmness of substance. Simply stated, real leaders must demonstrate that they will not change position on a whim and will maintain course as they move toward a goal making course adjustments based upon valid information for the good of those they lead and with an understanding of the overall impact.  Nothing’s more devastating to any company or organization than to have the leader change direction on a personal whim or for questionable or non-substantive reason.

  • Compassion

Webster defines compassion as the “sympathetic consciousness of other’s distress with a desire to alleviate it”.  In other words, “caring”.  For a real leader compassion doesn’t mean pity, nor does it mean empathy. Compassionate leaders do their best to understand the needs, desires, and capabilities of their people and are considerate their emotions whether personal or professional.

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Read more at http://wraltechwire.com/joe-magno-leadership-and-diamonds-the-four-c-s-of-quality/16798900/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm_source=wraltechwire#e23ReGwpKmxlcC86.99The number of engineering students graduating from North Carolina’s universities is continuing to grow and the work environment that those engineers will enter continues to change and evolve.

IEEE GlobalSpec recently conducted its third annual “Pulse of the Engineer” research survey. This online survey asked engineers and technical professionals in the industrial sector about the pace of engineering, work environment, competition, challenges, performance management and knowledge management practices.

Here are some of the findings it unearthed.

  • Engineers are still responsible for doing more, yet team size isn’t growing.

Senior engineers are retiring at an accelerated pace, creating a brain drain impacting all aspects of the supply chain from product creation though delivery.

Many estimates project that half of the engineering workforce will be eligible for retirement in the next few years. This knowledge drain is impacting the ability of organizations to keep pace.

Seventy percent of respondents noted that shortages of resources and specialized knowledge, along with budget and time constraints, are jeopardizing productivity, product quality and innovation.

Engineers are under significant pressure to work smarter, faster, and harder. Designs are becoming more complex at the same time that design cycles are shrinking and time-to-market pressures are increasing. At the top of a list of roadblocks to success, engineers face a shortage of resources and specialized knowledge.

  • Protecting and growing institutional knowledge is a challenge.

Forty-seven percent of respondents rate their satisfaction with their company’s talent and knowledge management process at five or less on a scale of ten with smaller companies indicating higher levels of satisfaction than larger ones. Only 51 percent of companies have formal knowledge management systems in place, and only 36 percent of companies have formal practices in place to preserve knowledge by leveraging senior-level and specialized experts.

The good news is two-thirds of engineers report that their company’s engineering workforce has increased or stayed the same. However, with engineers and technical professionals reaching retirement age, the loss of employees – even if replaced – will mean a loss of institutional knowledge at these companies.

Fifty-nine percent of our survey respondents said that knowledge/information loss was very important or extremely important as employees left the company. Yet only a third of companies have formal practices in place to preserve knowledge within their organization.

Companies must adopt creative strategies to retain the institutional knowledge that is walking out the door. It’s critical to have formal processes focused on identifying expertise that must be documented and transferred to the successors. They also must identify and preserve knowledge too often overlooked regarding relationships with partners and vendors.

  • Actionable Conclusions for Today’s Engineers

More than ever, today’s engineers need to maintain and advance their professional skills through resources like technical white papers, training provided by vendors and design help from partners and vendors. Learning never stops.

Access the 2017 Pulse of Engineering Survey and other research reports on IEEE GlobalSpec’s website.

Editor’s note: Joe Magno is Executive Director, the North Carolina Center of Innovation Network, which is a partner with WRAL TechWire.

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