Morgan Harrison
Contributed by:
Morgan Harrison

Talk About It

There are no comments yet, be the first!

EMERGING LEADERS: Listen, Relationships, and Generosity

An alumnus looks back at the 2017 Emerging Leaders Program [a transcript]

I am passionate about the practice of architecture. I love what I do and I love the people I practice with at GFF. Every day I strive to learn something new and to become a better professional. Participating in the AIA Emerging Leaders Program this past year has allowed me to keep learning and has been an amazing experience. It has enhanced my appreciation for the practice of our craft. Examples of how can be summed up in three words: Listen, Relationships, and Generosity.

First, Listen. For me, it was eye opening to truly understand that people give and receive information in many different ways. A simple concept, but often forgotten in the craziness of our day-to-day lives. Effective communication is always key whether you are a novice, apprentice, journeyman, or master in your craft. Knowing your audience and understanding that we will all travel from novice to master and back to novice again multiple times during our lives is paramount. We must always remember that it is the responsibility of the person who throws the ball to make sure that the other person actually catches it. This alone has made a huge impact in my growth this year as a person, an architect, and a leader. Listen first, then speak, and always remember to ask questions.

Second, Relationships. This year we were introduced to the correlation between task and relationship. Relationship is all about communication while task is all about work. Both are needed for productivity over time. If the task is under control, you should work on the relationship. If the relationship is under control, work on the task. When this was discussed in class, it became clear to me why I had decided to leave a previous job. Unfortunately, I have seen the burn out caused by a company that creates a high task / low relationship environment and I wish it on no one. Thankfully, for the past three years I have found myself at a company that strives to keep this delicate balancing act in check.

Third, and most importantly, Generosity. The emerging leaders program solidified for me the idea of the Citizen Architect. Since finishing school, I have volunteered my architectural knowledge and skills to organizations including Habitat for Humanity, Preservation Dallas, and several City of Dallas Historic District Task Forces. While all of these are noble endeavors, there is so much more that can be done. While our class spent hours discussing the concept of the citizen architect, civic leadership, and advocacy, our class project taught me more than any one person ever could. For the last year, we have been working with CitySquare to design a columbarium for their homeless clients that they call neighbors. Early in the project we hosted a community forum with the neighbors and I was fortunate to be part of the group that represented our class that day. One comment has stuck with me since then -- we were designing a home for people who never had homes in life. When I heard this comment, a lightbulb turned on in my head and it became obvious to me that as architects we can do remarkable things to help others. We should never forget that our voice is important and that we have the power to advocate for our communities, the less fortunate, and our built environment.

“Listen, relationships and generosity.”

There is no question that this has been an amazing experience! Pete, thank you for sharing all your knowledge, stories, and movie suggestions with us. It has been an honor to be a part of the Emerging Leaders class of 2017. Ernest Hemingway said it best “when people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”

Thank you.