Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Guest Blog: AIA FORUM by Paul Welch, Hon. AIA

Paul W. Welch Jr., Hon. AIA, executive vice president of the AIA California Council (AIACC), is interim executive vice president and CEO of the American Institute of Architects. An experienced California public servant and senior executive with the AIACC for nearly three decades, Welch began the interim appointment in July 2010. Below is a recent post from Paul's blog FORUM.

Pesky Emerging Professionals are Future Leaders

Thanks to all of you who took time to comment on last week’s blog. All your comments on mentoring—and I did read them all—were thoughtful, inspiring, and welcome news that although technology has enabled some professionals to restrict their search for knowledge to the Web or on an episode of “Seinfeld,” the pulse continues, mentoring still lives. So let’s continue the conversation.

Clearly, mentoring touches all of us. Your perspectives reflect its complexity. Perhaps what many young professionals—and gray hairs, too—see as a decline in mentoring is unintended collateral damage of the Intern Development Program (IDP). However, IDP is but one example why mandating mentoring will not work. As many of you wrote, mentoring is more personal, oftentimes happening simply as a consequence of a friendship and trust.

Yes, emerging professionals can be pesky and difficult to understand because they have different values and perspectives on design and on the role of the profession in service to society. Let’s admit it; maybe technology has in fact enabled them to be more inquisitive, more innovative, and more visionary. Maybe, just maybe, mentoring works both ways.

This I know for sure: emerging professionals will soon be running firms and the AIA. They’ll be the ones making decisions and making architecture happen. Perhaps it’s time to listen to them.

As AIA leaders, it’s our duty to mentor and nourish future leaders within the profession and this organization. Tomorrow’s leaders are like the quarterback who’s looking for an opportunity to break into the open. Tomorrow’s leaders are among us today. They will flourish when encouraged, gain confidence when given opportunities, and become wise with experience.

Opportunities for leadership development are in great abundance at all levels of the AIA. Encouragement—an easy undertaking—may be the single gesture that inspires one to volunteer and begin the leadership track. Or, perhaps it’s the awarding of a scholarship to Grassroots or Convention that’s long remembered because someone cared.

Are we, today’s AIA leaders, providing opportunities for the young to work on committees, participate in governance, engage the State House and Congress, or experience the challenges of planning special events for their component? Are we open to their unique points of view?

I’m from a state that incubates, cultivates, and nurtures leadership at all levels. Remaining relevant in an environment of constant change will soon be the duty of a new generation of architects. In the words of R.D. Lang, “We live in a moment of history where change is so speeded up that we begin to see the present only when it is already disappearing.”

The youth of today were born into a world of change, and they were educated to be agents of change. I have great confidence in our nation’s youth and their passion for making a difference. Are we doing all we can to listen to and empower tomorrow’s leaders to renew this profession and the AIA? What else could and should we be doing today?

To read Paul Welch's blog, visit the AIA website at www.forum.aia.org/.

No comments: