Top engineering schools, like Carnegie Mellon and MIT, are renowned for their ability to teach "left-brain'' skills to their students. But what of "right-brain'' skills, such as creativity, the ability to deal emotionally with conflict, and self-motivation? Arguably, these abilities are as important to engineering leadership as are "nerdy'' skills. CMU's "reasonable-person principle'' is but one example of how a right-brain cultural norm can leverage the left-brain abilities of a group's members.
In this talk, I will share some experiences from two programs at MIT that teach leadership skills to engineering students and faculty. The *Undergraduate Practice Opportunities Program* (UPOP) is a summer-internship program now taken by half of MIT's engineering sophomores. UPOP begins with a week-long workshop, of which I am the School of Engineering Co-Director, where the students learn about real-world practice, group decision-making, and how to communicate effectively with people who think differently. The second program is a three-day workshop called *Leadership Skills for Engineering Faculty*, which I offer to MIT's School of Engineering faculty. This faculty workshop focuses on human -centered strategies for leading effective research groups and teaching staff in academic, engineering settings.
Since leadership styles are highly individual and situational, these two programs offer no dogma about how to lead. Instead, they attempt to provide a nonjudgmental yet structured environment in which participants can discover what works for them. Pedagogical tools include interactive role-playing, validated self-assessment instruments, and group discussions. Anecdotal (self-reported) evidence indicates that these programs expand participants' repertoire of strategies for addressing human-centered issues in engineering, as well as enhance their self-understanding as leaders.