14 Essential Qualities of an Executive Engineer

Do you have bodily vigor? How good are you at playing the business game? Do you maintain a well-groomed appearance?


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The February 1922 issue ofProfessional Engineerhad a column on the leadership challenges that executive engineers faced. The article proposed a list of 14 “Essential Qualities” that an ideal executive should possess.

The Essential Qualities, reproduced from a facsimile of the newsletter are:

  1. Judgment– Reasoning ability, accuracy in conclusions, ability to profit by experience.
  2. Initiative– Alertness, imagination, originality, independence in thinking.
  3. Integrity– Truthfulness, honesty, sincerity.
  4. Organizing Ability– Systematizing, classifying according to functions, planning and delegating
  5. Health– Bodily vigor, good sight, hearing, etc., included.
  6. Perseverance– Industry, ambition, concentration.
  7. Aggressiveness– Energy, courage, domination of will.
  8. Open-Mindedness– Reasonableness, teachableness, openness to new ideas.
  9. Co-Operativeness– Unselfishness, kindness, cheerfulness, tact, loyalty.
  10. Competitiveness– Interest in playing the business game.
  11. Control of Emotions– Freedom from outbursts of anger or touchiness.
  12. Refinement– Courtesy, manners, general culture.
  13. Appearance– Well-groomed appearance, good carriage, pleasing facial expressions, etc.
  14. Sense of Humor

Reflecting on these, I realize that I do have to watch my posture from time to time (Quality #13) and on a day to day basis, I still try to navigate corporate politics to the best of my ability (Quality #10). I strive to resist people who push my buttons (Quality #10) and still believe that there’s no better work than hard work (Quality #6).

While so much of the technological landscape has changed, I am grateful that as a contemporary profession, engineering still upholds many key characteristics today as it did in the early 20th century (even if you do wear contact lenses like me—Quality #5). All these decades later, I remain inspired to strive toward these qualities and couldn’t be more proud to be immersed in a profession that endeavors to do the same.

And now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to get busy.

I need to start working on my domination of will.

Published March 21, 2013 by Austin Lin

Filed under: career development, success, ambition, professionalism,

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of and should not be attributable to the National Society of Professional Engineers.

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