Essential Soft Skills for Engineers in Leadership Roles

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A group of engineers


A Master of Engineering Management (MEM) degree can help engineers advance toward higher management positions. Because the role of engineering manager typically requires a depth of technical expertise, the MEM program focuses on engineering-specific management skills. Emphasizing protocols and project standards, communication, and leadership skills, the program applies to various engineering fields, such as chemical, mechanical, and civil.

Soft Skills for Engineers

Engineering managers need soft skills to perform their jobs well. These skills differ from the quantitative knowledge that engineers obtain via their education and work experiences. Management, communication, ethics, and organizational skills can also improve job performance.


Engineers often work in teams to meet a shared goal. Because engineering often relies on creative problem-solving, engineering managers should bolster their teams’ capacity to meet goals inventively. By creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing ideas and solutions, engineering managers can extract the highest quality of effort from their employees.


Communication is a central component of engineering work. Engineers interact with a variety of colleagues, and the outcome of engineering projects rests on the ability to delegate work, collaborate, and report successes and failures. Engineers can benefit from practicing work presentations and writing technical reports compellingly and thoughtfully.


Engineering managers create safe and efficient projects. A company’s bottom line isn’t the only consideration for engineering teams. Engineers are tasked with ensuring safety and efficiency. They must maintain perspective on how their work affects people and communities. A strong sense of ethics enables engineers to keep the consumer or end user in mind throughout the development and production processes. This leads to project outcomes that are safer, more sustainable, and more beneficial to society.


Engineering projects encompass many moving parts. Tasks may require subtasks before completion, and those subtasks may themselves involve several steps and criteria. Engineering managers must be proficient in workflow management to meet project goals. They also need to be able to oversee the overall organization and task management of the employees they manage.

Courses That Develop Soft Skills for Engineers

Engineering management courses provide a unique benefit: They draw in students from a wide array of industries and disciplines, enabling them to interact with others from diverse technical backgrounds. Project managers are responsible for communicating with a wide variety of professionals, and courses that emphasize this skill will aid them throughout their careers. Beyond this benefit, courses can assist in other areas of growth. Ohio University’s online Master of Engineering Management includes several courses that can enhance soft skills for engineers:

Foundations of Engineering Management

By prioritizing the type of work most engineers encounter throughout their careers, this course is designed to promote management skills among students. How do globalization and culture affect engineering management? This course also teaches students how to manage and communicate with a diverse range of professionals.

Engineering Writing

This course covers elements of thought such as purpose, basic concepts, information sources and needs, underlying assumptions, inferences and conclusions, implications and consequences, and points of view, to help students develop written language skills.

Engineering Leadership

Effective leadership skills are vital for engineering managers because they’re often responsible for large teams. This course uses readings, videos, interviews, reflections, and discussions to develop students’ management and communication skills.

Project Management

The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) is a set of standards and guidelines for project managers developed by the Project Management Institute. This course covers techniques and processes that address each step of project fulfillment. Students learn various industry standard software and network scheduling techniques, including the program evaluation and review technique (PERT) and the critical path method (CPM), two commonly used project sequencing models. Students will develop strong organizational skills as managers as they master techniques that real-world project managers use to keep operations running smoothly.

Taking the Next Steps as an Engineer

Soft skills for engineers can be as important as the vast technical knowledge obtained in practice. Leadership involves many interpersonal skills that extend beyond quantitative knowledge. A degree program that focuses on both can develop well-rounded engineering professionals who are ready for advanced roles. If you’re interested in advancing your career into engineering management, visit Ohio University’s online MEM page. Classes are 100% online, and you can earn your degree in fewer than five semesters. Explore whether an engineering management career might be right for you today.

Ohio University’s Online Master of Engineering Management Curriculum

Foundation Courses

EMGT 6000     Foundations of Engineering Management

EMGT 6010     Engineering Writing

EMGT 6100     Statistics for Engineering Management

EMGT 6200     Information Systems Engineering



EMGT 6300     Project Management

EMGT 6600     Applied Accounting and Finance for Engineering Management

EMGT 6110     Principles of Six Sigma



EMGT 6120     Quality Systems

EMGT 6210     Database Information Systems

EMGT 6400     Engineering Law

EMGT 6220     Data Acquisition and Predictive Analytics

EMGT 6500     Lean Thinking Methods

EMGT 6700     Engineering Leadership



EMGT 6949     Engineering Management Project


Recommended Readings

Engineering Management vs. Project Management

Master of Engineering Management: Creating Leaders in Engineering

What Is an Engineering Management Degree?



Engineering Strategy News, “5 Must-Have Skills for Engineering Managers”

Forbes, “6 Soft Skills Technical Employees Need to Thrive”

Ohio University, Online Master of Engineering Management

Ohio University, Online Master of Engineering Management Course Descriptions