ITE Journal - July 2021 - 33

Figure 2. Management functions: " What " managers do.
" How " the management role is executed determines the
quality of the " what " functions. The " how " attributes such as
empathy and listening made managers good at " what " functions
like delegation, decision-making, and motivation. For example,
Emily performs the " what " role of delegation with no thought
to her staff, their interests, or skills. She doesn't listen and she
communicates brusquely. On the other hand, Enrico delegates,
but he does it with empathy and understanding. He listens to
his staff and attempts to tailor assignments to their needs. He
does the same " what " role as Emily, but " how " he does it makes
him a more desirable manager. To function well as a manager,
Emily must embody the " how " attributes of management. Now
consider the specific skills needed to bridge The Gap to create
the " how " attributes.
Groups of contributors arrived at the same three skills every
time as illustrated in Figure 3. Interpersonal communication
skills are consistently the top choice. Self-awareness and
developing relationships vie for second and third. These three
skills are foundational skills for managers.
The Foundational Skills
The foundational skills (interpersonal communication,
developing relationships, and self-awareness) support the " how "
attributes which enable technical professionals to successfully
bridge The Gap into management. Many technical professionals
who transition into management struggle with the " what " skills
(i.e., delegation, decision-making, motivation) because they
lack the foundational skills that create the " how " attributes.
Therefore, the foundational skills are the necessary layer in
the professional development model upon which management
functions are successfully performed (Figure 4.) This
professional development model is the core of the Blue Fjord
Leadership System.
Interpersonal Communication
It is not surprising that interpersonal communication is a foundational
skill. Every " what " function depends on the ability to
effectively communicate but we don't always communicate well.
Jeff Paniati, P.E. (F), Executive Director and CEO of ITE, notes
that communications in a leadership capacity requires " relating to
people on a human level as opposed to on a technocrat level. "
(Engineers) want to be so technically accurate and correct that it
gets in the way of expressing ideas in a way that is adapted to the
audience. (Engineers) are trying to problem solve constantly and
they're not always listening to the folks that are talking to them.
-David Thatcher, Stantec
Technical professionals tend to work with other technical people
and have limited exposure to people with differing styles of
thinking. That is not the case for managers.
When you rise to your first supervisory position, you start having
different kind of disciplines under you. In transportation it takes
more than engineers to develop a transportation project. So, the
communication in my mind becomes very different. Because it has to.
It has to be broader. -Carlos Lopez, HNTB
We are working on these multidisciplinary approaches to solve
problems because problems are getting more complex. (We need) to
have the ability to communicate to somebody who's in a different
discipline than engineering. -Brian Moen, City of Frisco, Texas
Developing Relationships
One word surfaced in almost every interview: empathy. Many of
the " how " attributes rely on empathy-an ability to understand,
appreciate and relate to others.
www.ite.org July 2021 33
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ITE Journal - July 2021

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