Contributed by:
Jillian Brooks
Contributed by:
Kali Surguine
Assoc. AIA

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The Importance of Asking the Right Questions

Our April Emerging Leaders session focused on firm leadership, with instructor Pete DeLisle discussing the traits of high-performing teams. The best teams find a balance between concern for tasks and concern for relationships. We learned that when one is stable, it’s time to work on the other, and that we should always be striving to reach that balance between the two. When concern for task becomes prevalent it can lead to high attrition, and when relationships become primary it can reduce productivity and quality of work.

We broke down the concept of a team into its most basic categories: 

  • Who am I?
  • Who are You?
  • What Will We Do?
  • How? 

This allowed us to see how effective communication can break down if all those questions are not answered and understood by the entire team.  For example, how many times have you walked into a meeting only to not know half of the people in the room?  Something as basic as not knowing the role the other person plays in the team can cause things to slow down.  If all members of the team aren’t aware of, “What will we do?” then apathy and competition can develop.  On the flip side, if everyone is on board, creativity and productivity can flow.

Following Pete’s presentation, the class held a Q&A session with GFF President Evan Beattie and Page Principal Eric Kuehmeier to dive into the issues facing firm leaders today.  Evan and Eric were patient and insightful as we peppered them with questions.  We discussed everything from work/life balance while leading a firm to how do you ensure that you have a diverse group of people supporting you. They both talked about a firm being able to evolve regarding what they focus on and who they hire, as well as employees evolving by always learning something new. They are both on the lookout for the next generation of leaders and encouraged us to find mentors, have passions outside of work, and to get involved in the community and other organizations. As architects we get to help lead the project team, we are the quarterback and our 2019 ELP group is ready to step up to that responsibility.