Contributed by:
Brad Thaw

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How to Be a Leader by Watching Men in Black and Karate Kid

At the Beck Group’s office in downtown Dallas, the ELP seminar commenced in March. In the meeting's first segment, Pete DeLisle led a discussion about performance development, which centers on understanding the concepts needed to facilitate the growth and development of our colleagues and subordinates. Pete used the Guild Hall Model to illustrate these concepts, identifying four levels of performance development: novice, apprentice, journeyman, and master.

In the ELP handbook there is a questionnaire that presents 12 generic situations and conflicts that involve employees of various levels. As leaders, we chose an action, or inaction, to address the presented conflict. The results of this survey revealed that people tend to address issues related to the performance of others in a manner that fits their preferred managerial style. This revelation illustrates that aspiring leaders should instead adapt their leadership method to fit the needs of their subordinates' development level, focusing on an appropriate mixture of communication, support, and dissemination of information. Pete frequently referenced Men in Black and Karate Kid because they both supported his arguments for professional development. All members in the program should go back and watch those films!

The next segment of the class centered on a discussion about advocacy at the local, state, and national levels. The discussion was led by Lisa Lamkin from BRW Architects, Katie O'Brien from the Davis Advocates, and Todd Howard (founder of the ELP) from TH+A Architects. These three individuals share a passion for architects using their expertise to advance ideas and social progress. They encourage young architects to use their knowledge and to get involved in the community by attending meetings, mayoral forums, happy hours, and conferences regarding topics that interest us. Katie O'Brien, who is not an architect, provided a unique perspective through her legal background, explaining that it is good to engage city officials and members of our state and federal legislatures by reaching out to their staff members.

Following the advocacy discussion, the group selected the development of the Alice Branch Creek Health and Wellness Green Belt in a partnership with the Trust for Public Land. Over the next several weeks, the class will finalize an appropriate scope of work. Our choices include the development of a one-mile linear park/trail, the trail's anchor park, the masterplan of the adjacent Glendale shopping center, architectural updates for the shopping center, and affordable housing for the shopping center.

Our session concluded with a happy hour at 348 Corrientes, conveniently located in the same building as The Beck Group. Warm temperatures allowed the group to enjoy its happy hour outdoors following a week of cold weather.