Architects: Leaders for the next decade
It’s that time of year – we’re either excited that we’ve got all of our Christmas shopping done or we are frantic that we haven’t even started shopping yet. Regardless, it’s the end of the year, and well, the end of a decade. As we sip our holiday beverages or search for what can be delivered next day on Amazon, it’s a great opportunity to reflect on the last 365 days and the past 10 years.
Looking back on this past year, a lot has happened, and it seemed to have all happened so fast. One of the most notable experiences from this past year includes my involvement with the Wedgworth Leadership Institute. This year, we welcomed our new director Christy Chiarelli, met some of Florida agriculture’s brightest while traveling to selection seminars, and kicked off a very impactful first seminar with Class XI. The first seminar was nothing short of awesome – inspiring speakers, thought-provoking conversations, and great fellowship.
But as I reflect solely on Seminar I, several of our speakers used a term in their remarks that really stood out to me: architect. I wrote it down in my Wedgworth journal several times then underlined or circled it. It was a fascinating connection between leadership and what we do as leaders in the “real world.” We heard it in a couple of different contexts: be an architect… of culture for your organization, …and design a space for collaboration, … and create an environment for productivity. This one term answers a really big question that we face often as leaders – now what? We’ve stepped up to the plate as leaders. Now what?
I’m a graphic designer by trade, and I really enjoy making things not only look good, but ensure they are useful and effective. I’ve developed a passion for designing experiences that inspire or engage people to do big things. Whether it’s a website, conference, or even an app (more on this later), it’s very similar to being an architect of sorts. A very important and common element in becoming this architect is intentionality.
If you’ve ever been part of a construction project, you understand the level of detail that must be considered all throughout the process. From the early stages of “let’s build something,” to determining the exterior wall color and which doors have locks, there’s so much that goes into designing and building a structure of any type. An architect must consider every single detail: fire and safety, accessibility, effective use of space, energy efficiency, and things I would never even think of when constructing a building. In addition to all of these details, they are also delivering a space that is inviting, serves a purpose, houses conversation, and creates a sense of structure.
What can we learn from architects? One crucial takeaway is intentionality. As a leader in your community or organization, have you intentionally considered how you lead others or create a culture with others? Like an architect, this means considering the details from start to finish, internal and external. And a good architect shows careful consideration to every detail, making an effective use of every square foot and creating appeal with every corner.
As an architect you design for the present, with an awareness of the past, for a future which is essentially unknown.Norman Foster
It’s the end of the year and you may be asking yourself that bold question, “Now what?” My challenge to you would be to become an architect. Now, don’t put away your boots or sell off the land to head back to school for building and construction… I mean become an architect of culture, collaboration, and productivity. Consider what you can do intentionally to contribute to these important components of our industry. Our issues aren’t going to become less challenging anytime soon, so we have to be intentional with how we approach problem solving. And problem solving involves people. Lots of people. Different types of people. People with different perspectives. As an architect/leader, how can we intentionally bring these people together to resolve an issue? How can we intentionally schedule a meeting to encourage collaboration? How can we intentionally create a culture that drives innovation and moves agriculture forward?
It’s a pretty bold challenge and question to consider. But if I learned anything from my experience with construction, there’s a lot of people involved. The architect works with the contractor or builder to help ensure the project becomes a reality. As leaders, we can also work with our boards, managers, and others to ensure that our leadership plan comes together. This is another opportunity to be intentional.
At the first seminar, I was able to briefly share the answer to my own “now what?” for my role with Wedgworth. Over the past couple of years, we’ve been dreaming about what the future of leadership development looks like. We wanted something to keep our networks connected and provide an opportunity to continue growing as leaders. Now, there’s an app for that. Next year, we will be introducing the Wedgworth Leadership app. Class XI participants will be the first to use the app with plans to roll out the app to alumni members shortly after. The app will include Wedgworth’s own social network and “notebooks” of resources for continuous learning.
We’re looking forward to sharing this with each of you. Just like an architect, we drew out the plans and sweated the details. This was our opportunity to build a new structure that could bring people together and make a difference. We hope the app engages agriculture’s own architects to grow as leaders in the next decade.
So, now what?