Leadership Habits for Architecture Firm Executives

As someone who caters to architecture, construction, and design companies, it’s important that I’m acutely aware of what goes on in their respective fields. Their ever-evolving business landscape means that I must consistently match my company’s resources to effectively respond to their requirement.

A smart leader also pays attention to what their employees need to be successful. This impels me to purposefully sharpen leadership skills like flexibility, communication, focus, patience, and humility.

1. Be Genuine

Everyone makes mistakes, including me. Owning up to them, however, was not only empowering, it also made it easier to move forward and recalibrate my company’s strategy. This attitude encouraged me and my staff to be more open with one another- by freely giving input and discussing opportunities for improvement.

Leaders are not perfect and we only become better through a series of trial and error. I learned to trust in this process while continuing to remain rooted in my company’s core values. It is a commitment that has helped me stand out and mold my company’s brand. As a result, I’ve seen increased revenues and a steadily growing client base. More importantly, I gave my team a firm reason “why” that positively impacted retention.

Displaying my authentic self shows that I am only human. In spite of this, it has helped me gain the trust of my team and my clients. Learn to optimize this trait while constantly striving to develop what differentiates your firm from the rest.

2. Have a Clear Purpose

Anyone can formulate a mission and vision statement. The challenge makes it resonate throughout the company and felt to drive your customer
experience. Authentically pushing for your firm’s basic precepts (like your core values) must always hold centerstage.

It begs the question: “What is my company’s reason for existence?”

Making money should never be your business’ only goal. Many now espouse a triple bottom- line when it comes to sustainability: planet, people, and profit. Some even adopt a quadruple bottom line which includes the original three reasons plus purpose expressed through uplifting culture, spirituality, or social enterprises.

As leaders, we must deeply consider and establish clear initiatives toward how our company impacts community well-being. Firms that do this well will inspire their employees and are more appealing to clients.

I regularly assess how my firm can drive positive changes in the community. consider organizing independent charity drives. Or encouraging employees to propose programs of their own.

Staying true to our “why” serves as an unmistakable inspiration
for our team and a beacon for clients to help them navigate through a sea of competitors.

3. Keep On Learning

I am not immune to failure or the occasional bout of anxiety. But allowing them to immobilize me will not help my situation or the company. It goes without saying: A good leader should be courageous and keep moving forward.

The various uncertainties I’ve faced throughout life constantly challenged my beliefs. When they do creep in, I tell myself that I will either succeed or learn from my mistakes. Either way, there is always a sense of advancing toward the goal.

I am fortunate to work with an incredible team that utilizes the same mindset. We openly communicate to help one another learn and implement projects. This regular exchange of ideas also assists in formulating new concepts necessary to propose to future clients.

Strive for growth.

Do not allow yourself to be complacent in spite of your successes. Achieving a favorable outcome only means that the right decisions were made based on the knowledge at hand. Yes, the validation feels good and does result in good business, but I am mindful to continue to stretch my boundaries and discover something new. By doing so, I not only grow as a leader but set an example for my team to follow.

4. Invert the Organizational Pyramid

Businesses are traditionally run with a CEO at the top of the pyramid, followed by middle management, and rank-and-filers to make up the wider base. There is a top-down hierarchical flow to this structure which dictates a certain chain of command.

While it is still effective in certain settings, I do not believe that it is the best application for the design industry. Collaboration and communication are essential when it comes to design work. The rigidity of the traditional pyramid structure stifles communication and may affect motivation.

An inverted pyramid is important because it places the rank-and-filers at the top with management serving in a supporting role. This empowers the front-liners, giving them the freedom to decide autonomously from management. They are the ones who are in the best position to know what the company needs since they regularly interact with its customers. Employees can more freely communicate across the different levels of the organization, which spurs creativity and collaboration within the team.

Having an inverted pyramid enables me to focus more on CEO-related tasks such as strategy and managing company resources to support my design team. We have become more agile, without having to constantly provide instructions or navigate restrictive management bureaucracy.

More importantly, a greater level of independence builds trust. It strengthens our working relationship and increases my team’s productivity.

5. Expand Your Network

My company usually has ongoing projects in different locations around the world. While I am fortunate to have a highly capable team in place that executes our work independently, I still find it necessary to seek coaching to help me better service my team.

I seek out mentors, join leadership seminars and read up on the latest design trends in order to keep tabs on the industry. It also is highly advantageous to network with other CEOs to gain management insights I could not ordinarily discover on my own.

Likewise, business coaches have helped me see things from a different perspective and provided additional tools to approach the business. I also find time to attend trade shows and join business organizations and social events. It promotes the influx of fresh ideas, new business, and energetic talent.

Another easy way to expand your network is to accept speaking engagements whenever you can. They build credibility and make you an authoritative figure in your business community. It was daunting at first, but when I get up on a stage I run on autopilot sharing what I know.

Social media is another avenue you can’t ignore because it allows you to engage with internal and external audiences. I am currently working to build exposure for my business on our social media platforms. Make your presence felt on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram if you have not already.

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with Elizabeth Averyanova

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