September 6, 2016 / President's Letters

September 2016 President's Letter – True Leadership

Given the upcoming 2016 national elections and a number of striking recent events, this topic has been weighing on my mind. What does leadership consist of and how do we recognize it?

  • Is it strong, tough talk OR respectfully listening to opposing points of view?
  • Is leadership the ability to build compromise amid competing, partisan interests OR to remain focused and unyielding relative to one’s own truth no matter how unpopular?
  • Is it resigning over matters of one’s principles OR staying in the fray to fight the good fight, no matter how hopeless it appears?
  • Is leadership saying the things which will encourage others to follow OR is it speaking the truth which needs to be be heard no matter how challenging or disturbing?
  • Is it about being a tough task master OR is it about building up dreams and visions?
  • Is leadership more about directing and controlling OR is it primarily about inspiring and empowering?

Each of us probably has an image of what great leadership consists of, very likely formed by those in our past who have inspired us with their ability to define a compelling path forward in the midst of confusing times. We know what leadership is when we see it but it is still challenging to define clearly or distill into its essential components. Following are a few insightful quotes regarding leadership for your consideration. Just for fun, see if you can also link the quote to the person whose observation it is.

  1. “The supreme quality of leadership is integrity.”
  2. “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”
  3. “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.”
  4. “Don’t tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.”
  5. “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
  6. “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.”
  7. “Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them become what they are capable of being.”
  8. “The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.”
  9. “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”
  10. “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
  11. “The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.”
  12. “You cannot be a leader, and ask other people to follow you, unless you know how to follow, too.”

THOSE QUOTED  a) John Quincy Adams;  b) Rosalynn Carter; c) Dwight D. Eisenhower; d) Johann Wolfgang von Goethe;  e) Steve Jobs; f) Martin Luther King Jr.; g) Ray Kroc; h) Ralph Nader;  j) George S. Patton Jr.; k) Sam Rayburn; m) Ronald Reagan; n) Edith Wharton
Being a “follower” is often considered something to be avoided or at least as somewhat negative. But in fact it is also a critically important role to play and not as mindlessly passive as it is often regarded. During a past Design Awards event, a speech given about Willard Hackerman of Whiting-Turner quoted him as reminding people regularly of the importance of “good followership.” These are the people who choose among the various leadership options and select those most worthy to follow. In this way, followers have an equally compelling role in our collective future. Accordingly it is essential to hone and refine the “filters” used to select those leaders who are most capable of facilitating the kind of future that moves our society forward to that higher, noble plane of human achievement we seek.
The reality is that each of us is called at various times to be either leaders or followers. Let us therefore resolve to perform each of these roles as well as we possibly can. Whether this is in holding our leaders to the very highest standards or in taking great care as we vote for or otherwise take steps towards selecting them. And let us also be equally rigorous with ourselves, define our own core beliefs and standards and remain true to them. And realize that in each of our actions and words, we communicate who we are and what we believe. In this simple, integral way we lead those around us by the example of our lives. By the way, our chapter is filled with examples of impressive leadership:

  • A citizen architect who saw something moving towards a poor choice took steps to cause city officials to rethink earlier decisions
  • A committee chair who is championing resiliency in our communities by compiling resources for policy makers, planners and designers.
  • Several firms willing to invest their time toward inspiring young students to improve the built environments in their communities
  • A committee that is doing research and arranging work sessions aimed at causing legislators to better appreciate longer term, life cycle values relative to school construction

And each of the above examples also requires those dedicated followers willing to do the related work to make these initiatives successful.
I look forward to hearing about your own similar examples of inspired leadership and effective followership. Our chapter offers a wealth of opportunities for both. And thank you for this unique, humbling opportunity to serve as your chapter president.
I am both honored by and extremely thankful for all YOU do for our great AIABaltimore Chapter.
anthony sig
Anthony Consoli, AIA
President, AIABaltimore 2016
Campus Architect, University of Maryland Baltimore
ANSWER KEY 1c, 2n, 3b, 4j, 5e, 6m, 7d, 8h, 9f, 10a, 11g, 12k