Engineering Leadership Project


Research to discover untapped power in your engineers

ILead is conducting groundbreaking research on how engineers lead in the workplace. It is the first study of its kind. We invite your company to join us.

About the ELP

The Engineering Leadership Project (ELP) aims to identify the beyond-technical skills and traits engineers need to excel in the workplace. Through a large-scale study, the ELP will provide the first comprehensive model of “engineering leadership” that we will use to better prepare future engineers. Our findings will also contribute to professional development opportunities for engineers currently in the workforce.

After having conducted and analyzed focus groups and interviews with engineers across all organizational levels from junior to senior management, we now seek to collect survey data to deepen our insight and impact.

Findings to date: three engineering leadership orientations

We find that engineers lead in unique ways that reflect engineering knowledge and thinking. We have identified an emerging model that encompasses three distinct orientations to leadership:

1) Technical Mastery

Technical mastery is characterized by insightful, detail-oriented problem-solving and communication. Engineers with a technical mastery orientation often play informal mentoring roles as the go-to specialist for their expertise.

2) Collaborative Optimization

Collaborative optimization is characterized by exceptional team skills that balance high quality work with efficiency and engagement. Engineers with a collaborative optimization orientation are excellent at building bridges across organizational units and leveraging team members’ strengths.

3) Organizational Innovation

Organizational innovation is characterized by visionary, often entrepreneurial thinking. Engineers with an organizational innovation orientation are practical, resourceful systems-thinkers who use their technical know-how to drive growth.

Join us in tomorrow’s discoveries

The next phase of the research will identify specific leadership characteristics of individual engineers through our online survey. The results will provide you with information on how your engineers self-identify along the three orientations in our model of engineering leadership. This nuanced understanding will allow you to better position your engineers for success. It will also help you identify ways to increase effectiveness in your recruitment, retention, and professional development programs. The survey will require a modest time commitment – less than 20 minutes per engineer – but will have lasting impact.

As a partner enterprise you will receive:

  • A report on our leadership orientation findings for individuals and for the company. We will include industry benchmark comparators.
  • A debrief on your company’s results to discuss strategic insights and prospects for enhancing engineering leadership development in your company.
  • Access to your organization’s data for further analysis and interpretation.
  • Communications material to support your roll out of the online survey to your engineers.
  • One-year membership in our ELP Community of Practice, a U of T-led network of professionals engaged in engineering leadership and leadership development. There will be two workshops at U of T where your professional development/HR team can hear about the latest research and evidence-based, practical methodologies from our faculty.


To learn more about becoming a partner enterprise, please contact:

Professor Doug Reeve, Director
Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering
University of Toronto
416.978.2543 |