Four Take-Aways from the ELP March 2024 Session: Community and Civic Engagement

By James Spence, Katelyn Nunn, McKenzie Beckham, Thuy Nguyen, and Chadani Tangbe Tani

Each year, the AIA Dallas Emerging Leaders Program has cultivated and mentored young leaders in three areas of leadership: the firm, the profession, and our community. As each class takes part in a series of sessions, they offer a synopsis of lessons learned.

The most common blind spot people have is believing others have them but they themselves don’t. In the March session of the 2024 AIA Dallas Emerging Leaders Program, it was determined that most of the class was dealing with a blind spot of being people pleasers and trying to be more acceptable, but in the end their limit broke and resulted in a volcano effect*. In contrast, other trends included the opposite of the volcano effect, that would take a toll on their personal well-being and social life; the need to be self-reliable and not ask for help; and lacking the ability to relinquish control. It was eye-opening to share and listen to all the different blind spots that were revealed in our discussion.

Every individual has their own values and style. Understanding your own values is the key to developing oneself and creating goals, but understanding the values of others is also important, as that will help build better relationships, be it personal or professional. Values are what define a person and mold their identity. One’s values rarely change as they are unique to the individual.

To build one’s core values, one must first understand how they are formed. Core values are formed at the beginning of childhood and can be influenced by the family’s upbringing and religious beliefs. As one grows, more core values are formed with experiences, a code of ethics is developed, and various forms of relationships are forged. The class was assigned the task of identifying their personal core values for the next session.

How do you determine criteria for evaluation, develop a rating scale, and then implement that framework? The class performed the “Cookie Evaluation” as a group exercise. The class was divided into small groups and asked to evaluate three types of cookies. Beginning with no rules or procedures, the group had to identify how the evaluation had to be done. By the end of the exercise, everyone ended with similar means of evaluation based on criteria such as visual appearance, taste, texture, and size.

However, the results on which cookie was best varied per group based on their preferences. The exercise taught the class to build research development and program evaluation skills then produce results by identifying the best cookie.

“To fly we have to have resistance.”

Maya Lin

“Don’t take NO too seriously.”

Richard Rogers

“Would they call me a Diva if I were a guy?”

Zaha Hadid

Superheroes know their own superpowers. Whatever people are – introverts or extroverts, analysts or storytellers, high-achievers or team leaders, they can be superheroes and can be a leader. Our session’s guest speaker, J. Tipton Housewright, FAIA of OMNIPLAN, shared the inspirational quotes above and urged that architects are superheroes and view the world differently, as they see what others don’t.

Storytelling is a very important skill for an architect to have, as it will allow them to speak with any type of client. Most architects tend to be high achievers, but being a team leader is also very important because they have more influence over a bigger group of people. Whether you are a high achiever or a team leader, you need to identify which and leverage that skill. Superheroes don’t compartmentalize. The more an individual can weave their goals, paths, and lifelines together, the happier they will be.

*’Volcano effect’ can be explained as a human behavior that is similar to a physical volcano where the pressure builds and builds and in the end everything erupts. Similar to a volcanic eruption, a behavioral crisis can erupt unexpectedly, demanding immediate responses triggering heightened emotions and sometimes impulsive actions. This behavior is unpredictable which may risk perception and create extreme responses like fight – or – flight responses.

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