Three principles of leadership to help architects lead their practices

Since the start of the pandemic, the way we work has drastically changed.

While some companies have adapted to a flexible semi-remote schedule, others, such as consulting firm Deloitte, have told staff they can choose to work from home forever. In many places around the world, government restrictions are still determining whether you even can work in the office.

That begs the question: how can the owner or director of an architecture practice lead in such a fragmented workplace? What will leadership look like moving forward?

There’s no doubt that leadership looks a bit different in a work-from-home environment. It’s much harder to influence people as a group over Zoom than it is face-to-face. It’s also much harder to motivate and mentor people, which in turn can create a disconnect between staff and upper levels of management. 

But whether you’re working remotely or in the studio, there are three fundamentals to leadership that each practice leader must recognize and implement if they want to be effective leaders. It comes down to three core principles: alignment, commitment, and anticipation. 

Leadership is all about getting people to willingly do what the organization needs them to do. It’s not about forcing people or telling people what to do. Rather, you have to make things interesting enough so that people want to do them of their own volition.

That’s where alignment comes in. Once people are aligned with your vision for the practice, they’ll want to see it succeed and thus commit to it. This, in turn, creates anticipation. As a leader, you want your employees to be excited about what the future might bring for the practice and themselves so that they stay motivated about showing up to work each day. 

Another important fact to remember is that leadership can and should be learned. Many people tend to think of leadership skills as innate attributes that you inherit when you are born. While there are some natural leaders, there are many others for whom leadership is an acquired set of skills.

One important skill that every leader must possess is strong communication skills. So, whether you are leading remotely or in the studio, you should hold regular meetings like fireside chats or monthly town hall meetings (all-hands meeting) where you openly talk to your staff about what’s going on in the business. You’ll also want to open up the channels for feedback so your staff can let you know when they are struggling or need some extra help.

Another crucial skill is knowing how and when to delegate. Leadership doesn’t always have to come from the top. You want a practice that has strong leaders all over the place, each with their own expertise and talents.

As we eventually transition out of the pandemic, think about what kind of leader you want to be for your practice. Chances are, it will look nothing like the pre-pandemic leader you once knew.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Archibiz can help you and your team develop your leadership skills, check out our new Leadership Development Workshop. Each workshop is tailored for the practice, and can be scheduled over half- or full- days. Learn more about our workshops here.