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A better world through a systems approach

Nomination and SelectionTLI Logo

Participants in the TLI must be nominated by a formal INCOSE leader (Board Member, Director, Assistant Director, Chapter President or member of the Corporate Advisory Board) and must be full members of INCOSE, or agree to become full members upon selection.  Nominees are chosen based on proven:

  • Aptitude in both systems engineering and technical leadership
  • Comfort working in an uncertain world and ability to tackle wicked, messy problems
  • Interest in and commitment to enhancing their personal growth in systems engineering leadership
  • Potential for assuming positions of greater leadership in the future


Nominating letters must describe a specific instance of the candidate demonstrating one or more of the following Technical Leadership Behaviors[1]: 

  • Held the visionA vision is an aspirational statement that defines who we are and where we want to go. It provides an impelling purpose that energizes people to do more than they thought they could or would. To accomplish this, however, a vision must be more than just a statement posted on the wall. It must be the start of a continual and ongoing conversation that we, as systems engineers, are well positioned to support, reinforce and encourage.
  • Thought strategicallyStrategic thinking is long term thinking, rather than short-term, tactical thinking. It must be continuous and ongoing, not a one-time, up-front event. Technical leaders formulate a hypothesis before acting, treat the action as an experiment to test their hypothesis, and based on the results they observe, continue along the path they are on or formulate a new hypothesis and begin the testing anew. This is the scientific method applied to everything technical leaders do.
  • Fostered collaborationComplex problems cannot be solved by individuals working alone; their solution requires the efforts of many. Individual contributions must be woven together into a collective enterprise for which success means success of the whole, not of the individual parts. This enterprise represents a vast social network and systems engineers play a vital role in building, maintaining and strengthening these networks. The goal should be to foster not just tradeoffs that compromise between competing alternatives, but collaboration that allows new ideas to emerge through creative conflict and experimentation.
  • Communicated effectivelyOften when people seek to improve their communication skills, they begin by tweaking their “transmitters.” But effective communication is not just about speaking it is also about actively listening. Technical leaders must improve their “receivers.” Active listening requires attention to both the content being spoken and the emotion with which it is communicated. Technical leaders must learn the language of those they seek to influence and speak to them in words they understand.
  • Enabled others to be successfulSince systems engineers must most often lead through influence, the outcomes they seek to achieve will necessarily be accomplished by others. The leader’s role is to influence, guide, encourage and support those who are in a position to produce those outcomes. This requires a sense of humility and a deep respect for the people they seek to lead. Technical leaders must trust the abilities of others and their capacity to learn through discovery, not lecture. The leader’s success will derive from their success, and their acknowledgement that the leader contributed to it.
  • Demonstrated emotional intelligence In order to lead others, technical leaders must first understand themselves and their differences from others. Unless they recognize and understand those differences, they risk talking past others or causing them to reject their input completely. Leaders must continually seek feedback to decrease their blind spots and be willing to reveal things that help others know them better. While the former can make them uncomfortable, and the latter make them more vulnerable, the payoff will be more than worth the effort.


Once nominated, candidates must submit an application package that includes:

  • A copy of the nomination letter from the INCOSE leader
  • A letter of recommendation and support from the candidate’s home organization, including recognition of the required two-year commitment
  • A personal statement describing the benefits for participation the candidate expects will result for themselves, their sponsoring organization and INCOSE
  • A resume describing not only positions the candidate has held but also specific systems engineering results and accomplishments produced


Nominations are solicited in January of each year, application packages are due at the end of March and both should be sent to  Applicants will be notified of their selection by the end of April and will join the new cohort in July.  Interested members should discuss their interest with their Chapter President or Regional Director.  For further information, please contact David Long at

[1] Ref: Godfrey, P. 2016, ‘Building a Technical Leadership Model,’ 26th Annual INCOSE International Symposium (IS 2016), Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, July 18-21, 2016.