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ASCE Younger Members Learn Leadership Skills

30 Sep 2016 9:01 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

By Scott Duda, PE (YMF Budget Chair)

From left to right, Scott Duda, Emily Eichner, and Azekah GiffithsOn August 5-7, 2016, ASCE Headquarters in Reston, VA hosted the 2016 Younger Member Leadership Symposium (YMLS). Younger Member Forum (YMF) members Azekah Giffiths, PE, Emily Eichner (YMF Social Co-Chair), and I had the opportunity to represent the ASCE Pittsburgh Section at this year’s event. The conference was organized by the ASCE Committee on Younger Members (CYM), and it brought together over 40 YMF members from across the U.S.

Over the course of the weekend, attendees participated in workshops designed to improve leadership abilities, refine communication skills, and identify areas for further personal growth and development. Attendees were also given the opportunity to network with ASCE members from other regions of the country. We exchange of ideas for improving individual chapters and discussed solutions for common issues faced by civil engineers every day.

One focal point of the two-day symposium was identifying different types of personal communication styles, both within ourselves and within others. No two individuals communicate ideas the same way, and a clear set of directions for one person may be a confusing jumble of nonsense to another. The types of communication that truly resonate with people are governed by their personality type. By learning to identify an individual’s unique personal style, one is able to determine the most effective means of communicating an idea among any audience.

In general, an individual’s personality style may be characterized as a blend of four broad behavioral types:  

  • Analytical,
  • Driver,
  • Amiable, and
  • Expressive.

Each individual’s unique combination of behavioral types is also known as social style. This framework for classifying individual personalities was pioneered in the 1960’s by psychological researchers David W. Merrill and Roger H. Reid. You can learn more about their work here.

While an individual’s social style tends to favor one or two of these behavioral types over the others, all four may come into play when describing someone’s unique character. Identifying which behavioral types best describe a person requires careful observation of the person’s typical patterns and means of communicating. Once an individual’s behavioral type has been identified, one is able to tailor their message to meet their specific needs, improving the overall effectiveness of communication. Learning how to effectively communicate with people from a wide range of different social styles is an essential skill for leaders of all types, especially civil engineers.

During the training, I learned that my social style can be classified as Analytical-Driver. I tend to prefer systematic and precise communication, and I favor facts over feelings when making decisions. In order to communicate more effectively with my Expressive-Analytical co-workers, I can focus on developing a relationship with them, presenting them with ample data to support my statements, and providing testimony from others to further bolster my assertions.  

In addition to learning about communication and personality styles, symposium attendees also worked on improving presentation and speaking skills, developing a unique personal vision, and managing change in the workplace effectively.

YMLS is held annually at ASCE Headquarters in Reston, VA. You can read more about Pittsburgh’s participation in the event last year here


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