Architect Leaders

Friday, April 26th, 2013

Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality. —Warren Bennis

This quote rings true to me when I begin to think about Architects as leaders. This is something that is part of the essence of any architect; our common ground. We all do this activity on a daily basis for every project.

Showing the Way

Showing the Way from Vision to Reality

Yet the strong contradiction begins to become evident when we look at how we navigate the areas outside of our profession. Here we have a tendency to lean towards not necessarily following, but inaction. I feel that as architects, we have a great deal to offer the rest of society. Our knowledge certainly expands beyond the bounds of concrete and steel. We are ingrained with a different model of looking at the world around us. The one in which we exist now, but also the one we can see in the future. We are constantly looking into that haze of what is to come. And we are (in general) a demographic that does this better than many. Yet we are not recognized for our value of problem solving. We are not given the credit we should receive for this invaluable ability. This is where Architect as leader should come into play. Architects should make our valuable talents and skills better known to those who are unfortunately unaware of our unique abilities. Architects look through a very different lens than most. This is not to say that we are elitist, but rather our viewpoint is modified. Our stylish glasses show us views that are not always apparent to those around us. And they are usually not rose colored. They are critical, yet visionary.

Leading is not always easy: Sometimes is a tug of war

Leading is not always easy: Sometimes is a tug of war

To fulfill a role of leader, we should increase our ability to convey this value beyond on our own circles. Not everyone is fortunate enough to work with architects on a regular basis. That should change. We should change it. We need to foster this leadership and collaboration that is usually present in our daily work into the realms beyond brick and mortar. This is the crux of our current issue within our profession.  We have some issues with leading within our own ranks, but it becomes even more pronounced when we move into the “real” world: the non design world. But the time has never been better than now to showcase our talents as designers but more importantly Design Thinkers and Thought Leaders. Society is increasingly understanding the value of good design (right now mainly due to product design) but we can prove it moves well beyond the immediate physical dimensions. The time is now for our profession to lead itself into a new paradigm of value and perceived worth. And we must lead those around us to that destination.

Leadership Feels Like

Leadership Feels Like


This is a topic that I could (and should mind you) write countless posts espousing the ways in which Architects should lead both internally and externally of the profession. Yet, I feel it better for now to end with several quotations that convey ideas of leadership more eloquently than my own words.

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower. – Steve Jobs 

Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.  –  Brian Tracy

I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.  – Ralph Nader

A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be. – Rosalynn Carter

Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems. – Brian Tracy

Stylish with a Unique Perspective

Stylish with a Unique Perspective

Til next time…..


– Andrew Hawkins, AIA

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This is a post as part of the AIA National Blog off for the 2013 National Convention in Denver this June. Please read other entries.