Last Updated 18 Jun 2020

Ethics and Leadership in Engineering

Category Engineer, Leadership
Essay type Process
Words 1403 (5 pages)
Views 467

Engineers play a significant part in the development, prosperity and safety of people around the globe. The primary role of engineers is to identify/sense and respond to a need by constructing or creating a solution with certain specific guidelines. While it is the responsibility of engineers to develop such structures, it is also their responsibility that their creation serves the function in a proper manner, take all safety precautions while making it and give the safety directions to the users after handing it over.


These structures, however, do not stay safe forever. No matter how safe a construction or a creation is, it reveals its failure after sometime. Eventually these failures lead to dire consequences some time. Engineers struggle all the time to avoid failures and make their solution safer and more efficient. Sometime mere lacking of professional ethics is the reason.

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In UK, the seriousness of ethical issues, which arise in professional lives of engineers, has been recognized recently. However, in USA this has been recognized for some time. Their universities offer substantial guidance and support to their professionals. The Royal Academy of Engineering, in 2005, initiated the process and brought its publishing in the form of “Statement of Ethical Principles”, which outlines the specific ways in which engineers across UK are committed to upholding certain ethical values.

During the same time, UK Engineering Council amended its standards for chartered and incorporated engineers, in order to increase awareness of ethical issues. It appears that this has resulted in having a profound effect as many universities have incorporated ethical perspective in their studies.

Professional Engineers strive to develop solutions that improve the health and safety conditions for the welfare of society. The statement of Ethical Principles sets standards for professional Engineers (Statement of Ethical Principles. 2005). It presents four principles that guide engineers in their professional duties. It includes Accuracy and Rigour, Honesty and Integrity, Respect for life, Law and the Public Good, and Responsible Leadership.

Accuracy and Rigour means, Engineers have the responsibility to acquire and sustain the information relevant to their practices; they should also keep their knowledge up to date. It is also the responsibility to always act with care as their profession requires a strong commitment. They should only perform their services in the field of relevant competence. Since the technical knowledge, an Engineer can understand are not easy for the others, therefore, it is the duty of engineers to not knowingly mislead others as it can have dire consequences and therefore unethical.

Honesty and Integrity means; engineers should act with high standards of professional ethics. They should not accept any bribery or questionable payment from anyone. They should act in the best interest of employer, unless it is not in conflict with rights of the other party.

Respect for Life, Law and the Public Good, entails that engineers should be aware of relevant laws and regulations and should work accordingly. Conservation of nature and its resources should be a priority. They should act in the best manner that does not bring bad image to their profession.

Responsible Leadership involves practicing high level of standards and leadership in the management of technology. Provide awareness to the public. Listen to the concern of the society.

Adhering to these principles will bring good name to the profession and will make sure that it achieves what it is meant to be, welfare of society. However, we can have numerous examples from the past, of such negligence and improper conduct in this respected profession. In past successive accidents of railway occurred in UK, which were later fully investigated. These include the accident of Clapham Junction rail crash, on 12 December 1988.

35 people killed while 100 injured, when oncoming train ran into wreckage. Another on, 19 September 1997, Southall rail crash, killed 6 people and 150 injured. It occurred because of a collision with freight train. On 5 October 1999, Ladbroke Grove rail crash happened, when train passed the signal at danger and resulted in the head on collision, killed 21 while 523 injured. Investigation reports show that these could have been prevented by timely action of professional engineers. In America, a TV Antenna Tower collapsed in 1982, killing several people. Later investigation showed that safety measures were not taken as should have been (Uff, 2012, Pp13).


Engineering is a much respected profession. This respect demands responsibility. Adhering to rules but there arise ethical responsibilities too. However, if professional engineers stick to the four principles and apply them in their activities, it will surely add more value to this profession for sure.

Running Head: leadership techniques

Managers do things right, while leaders do the right thing.

[Name of writer]

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Managers do things right, while leaders do the right thing

Thesis Statement

“Managers do things right, while leaders do the right thing”.


“Leaders create and change cultures, while managers and administrators live within them.” (Edward Schein)

Managers do things right, while leaders do the right thing. Leader also sounds similar to the manager to the common man. But we know there are subtle differences. It takes a totally different approach to become a leader. These subtle differences create the difference that is visible in performances of organizations.

There have been many theories on leadership and management. Talking about whether a manager is born or developed, what styles are of management exist and which is appropriate. Also, what a leader does, where his/her power comes from. First of all we will differentiate between a leader and a manager. Then we will discuss some models and theories related to it.


The role of a manager is to achieve goals effectively and efficiently, by planning, organizing, co-ordinating and controlling. The importance of time is immense. On the other hand, leaders create and communicate a vision, then energise their followers towards achieving that vision. Leaders create a culture of shared values, beliefs and rituals to challenge the status quo. Managers use position authority to make subordinates work towards goals. While leaders motivate and inspire their followers to achieve their goals.

Today the trait theory (born leaders) is criticized more. It is argued that even leadership has different styles, which are learned with experience rather than born traits (Daft, 2003, Pp.518). Ashridge Management College did research and found four major classifications of management styles. Tells, sells, consults, join. In tell style, the manager is autocratic, making a decision and imposing it on others. In sell style, manager still makes a decision on self like basis, but try to explain the logic behind it. In consult style, manager makes decision but in consultation with his/her subordinates. The most democratic style is join style, where manager himself becomes part of the team that makes joint decisions, and also claims the responsibility of that decision afterwards.

Research indicates managers are generally thought to be having told or sell style. While employees prefer consult style. Choosing which style is more appropriate, depends on several factors. Contingency approach by Charles Handy suggests that four factors need to be understood to answer this question. The environment, task or people, trust or control, liking or respect (Schermerhorn 2012, Pp.266). Each particular combination of these factors results in a different situation and, therefore, requires a different tailored approach of management towards it (Robbins & Judge, 2010, Pp.393).

Michigan and Harvard identified two basic types of leaders. Task oriented and people or relation oriented leaders. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages. Ohio state research suggests that task orientation and people orientation can be achieved simultaneously; they are not mutually exclusive. Blake’s management grid proves this research by suggesting rather than asking a question that a manager should be task or people oriented; ask to what extent a manager should be task and people oriented (Daft, 2003, Pp.522).

Managers and leaders differ in their approaches towards performing similar tasks. The approach of management is routine in nature. They like to work under conditions of certainty, strive to gain as much information as they gain, take relatively less risk. Leaders on the hand challenge the status quo. They talk about changing the culture and create followers with their motivation and persuasions skills. Leaders create a shared culture towards achieving the vision that followers own.


Who is best, a leader or manager is, however, a question depending on what needs to be accomplished. If it is a routine or not so dynamic environment, then decision tilts in favour towards manager. While if it involves dealing with changing and fluctuating situation with lots of risk involved then it will require the initiative approach of a leader.

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