The c words

Day 23: Thursday 9 February

Today is about the c words, connection, community, communication.

Connection & communication

Met up first thing with a colleague and friend. As is often the way of our conversations, it went for a long time only drawing to a close through the pressures of other things in our day. It would be easy to say this was an indulgence, but it’s not. This is what doing your work sometimes look like. Connection, communicating but most importantly listening.

The most powerful thing you can do to make a point, to connect with your audience and say something that resonates is to use their words. Reflecting back to them what you’ve heard them say. That’s either the specific person, or similar people more often – your audience or clients who believe the same things and think the same way. You’re listening for insight and understanding.

That’s not wasted time.

Focussing on leadership of the architecture profession, which is what we spoke at length about, here’s what I heard:

  • It’s the smaller practitioners that are more outspoken in public. It may be that they’re the ones with less to lose. The leaders of bigger practices more hesitant to speak out should it lose them work (for whatever reason).
  • There are many smaller practitioners who are eloquent and have a lot to offer, who might speak out on social media but rarely lean in to taking on broader roles in the profession, on committees, panels, etc. Not sure why, but at a guess it’s time based – thinking they’ve not enough of it – or maybe for some it’s imposter syndrome.
  • It’s curiosity and a drive to learn that often drives people’s leadership journies.
  • Giving awards for leadership can be a kind of virtue signalling. Whilst it’s lovely to acknowledge people doing good work, it’s not building the environment in which that work can be done and instead leaving to others to do. What if instead of giving the awards they gave scholarships or training to build capacity and skills base into the profession.


In a similar vein, sometimes there’s huge value in taking some time outside your community or at least in the case of a work blog, a community that’s outside of your usual professional one. For some it’s networking, but networking suggests you are seeking specific outcomes, it’s transactional. Community is generously building connections and support in ways that may not be immediately apparent or serendipitous. It’s about a shared culture of sorts, not shared profession.

This is the value of a co-working space that understands community and puts on events like monthly lunches for tenants. I encourage anyone with that capability to pursue it as an option for their workplace.


This will be posted to my media channels tomorrow:

Leaders take responsibility,
choosing to lead.

To lead, often you must be willing to stand out.
If you don’t want to stand out, you’ll need to fit in.

By fitting in, you’ll never change anybody.

It’s my version of a few things I’ve read. I’m still sitting with it. I’m not sure I entirely agree.

Doing some reading and loving Good Authority by Jonathan Raymond

It’s a gentle and wise treatise on what good leadership looks like.

Please leave a comment

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