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The Importance of Leadership in Industrial Automation 

Posted By: Gibran Aguilar on
Jan 13,2017

Whether you are new to the world of industrial automation or you have been in this field for a while - there are some challenges that are encountered every time a new automation project is begun.

Those of us who have worked on their fair share of automation projects know that every project is inherently different, relative to its size and scope, although most projects do have some commons stages including the proposal phase, purpose, necessary materials and a standard execution methodology.

In my experience, what makes project management successful is the combination of leadership skills for every person involved in the project.

The idea of leadership is defined in many different ways depending upon the viewpoint of the speaker.

  • John C. Maxwell defines leadership as the “influence” you have with people.


  • Kevin Kruse of Forbes Magazine says that leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal.

I share the viewpoint of these men that leadership is not truly defined by the specific roll you play in the project but is more about how much you are able to influence the people around you in a positive manner.  

According to, leadership can be separated into seven different types:

Leadership Style



Charismatic leaders possess a very persuasive personality that attracts followers through charm. These leaders show great confidence in their followers and create a group image that is far superior to all others.



Participative leaders seek to involve other people in the decision process, including subordinates, peers, superiors and other stakeholders.



Situational leaders do not have a single preferred leadership style. Factors that affect situational leaders include motivating the team and harnessing the capability of their followers. 



Transactional leaders create clear structures that make apparent what is required of their subordinates. These leaders reward subordinates who follow orders. When things go wrong, the subordinates are often considered to be personally at fault, and are punished for their failure.



Transformational leaders have a vision for the future that will excite and convert potential followers. These leaders try to convince others of their vision. They are always visible and act as role model. They also make continued efforts to motivate and rally their followers, constantly making the rounds, listening, soothing and enthusing.



Autocratic leaders make decisions without consulting with others or considering any other viewpoint. 



Democratic leaders involve all people in the decision-making, although the process for the final decision may vary from the leader having the final say to the leader facilitating consensus in the group.


Laissez Faire

Leaders with a laissez-faire leadership style minimize their involvement in decision-making. Therefore, they allow people to make their own decisions, although the leader may still be responsible for the outcome.

When it comes to automation projects, it is common to interact with many different stakeholders (electricians, systems integrators, project managers, engineering supervisors, etc.). So, recognizing and cultivating your own leadership style is important before you begin work on a project. Know what your role is and how you can bring out the best in others. 

Mark Sanborn, a certified speaking professional, says there are four challenges that leaders always face:

  1. To be respected and liked.

“Being competent at what you do gains respect. Being nice gets people to like you. To do both takes only a little extra effort.”

  1. Balancing the needs of the client and the needs of the team. 

“You can’t succeed for the long haul if you don’t pay attention to both. Both needs aren’t always perfectly balanced, but if your people don’t feel cared for and supported with necessary resources, they won’t produce desired results. There are times when sacrifices will need to be made and most people understand that. But if you continually achieve results at the expense of your team, you’ll experience resentment and high turnover.”

  1. Staying motivated.

“There are many ways to stay motivated, but knowing your purpose is a great beginning point. As Friedrich Nietzsche said, 'He who has a reason why can bear almost any how.'”

  1. Maintaining focus.

“Effective focus comes from knowing what is most important and choosing to focus on that first. Not all distractions can be ignored, but most can be tabled until it makes sense to deal with them.

At the beginning of each day, in addition to your to-do lists and other time management tools, ask yourself, “What is the most important thing we need to accomplish today?” Your team should be on the same page when it comes to the answer to that question.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower said “Plans are nothing. Planning is everything”.


During my years in process automation, I’ve learned that it’s important to follow strategic planning methodology and work together with our clients to identify the issues, develop the strategy, build the schedule, assign responsibilities and assess the costs. I am honored to work with a team that knows what to do, when to do it and why it’s important. I’ve seen our team time and time again take the necessary steps to ensure that any unexpected changes that affect the project will be dealt with properly. 

If leadership for your automation project is what you are looking for – then look no further. The Trusted Partners and Engaged Experts at Avid Solutions understand the importance of leadership to ensuring successful project outcomes that create value for our clients and improve their communities.


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