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International Conference on Complex Systems (ICCS2006)

Architecting the Next Generation of Technical Leaders

Earl Valencia

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     Last modified: July 28, 2006

It has been said that leaders are born, but upbringing and early experiences are also instrumental to future leadership. This paper looks to synthesize and test several leadership traits by studying the responses of several high potential early-career engineers and contrasting their answers to upper management.

With the looming retirement of the baby boomer generation, there is a great need for the United States to rapidly grow the next generation of senior leadership which should combine critical factors such as ambition, motivation, creativity, passion and likeability. A leader should always create a vision and should be able to inspire his or her constituents to align willingly to this vision. The lifeblood of the developed countries is in its innovation, and with the lack of interest for math and science, there will be millions of technical jobs that will not be filled, and thus future technical leaders should be taken that are both technically competent and relatable to the Gen Ys.

This paper will attempt to model the leader as a system by using appropriate systems architecting tools and heuristics more commonly applicable to engineering-specific systems. Also, the classical, authoritarian definition of leadership will be investigated and contrasted with the current notion of the charismatic leader. A survey was conducted at Raytheon Company, a high-technology organization, to their high potential employees and their top senior executives to map out core competencies of the two focus groups. Common and uncommon responses were analyzed and synthesized to attempt to model the transition from a developing leader to a high potential and ultimately a high potential into a senior technical executive.

The paper is envisioned to build a theory of technical leadership and provide a way to guide engineering organizations in creating new leadership that could drive further innovation to create the next generation of technological advancement.

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