Recently, I participated in the AIA’s annual Grassroots conference. It’s a conference the AIA organizes so that leaders within the AIA Chapters can network and receive tools that focus on how to be effective leaders within their chapters, and how to be effective leaders on behalf of the architecture profession in community politics. The words, *leader* and *leadership* were tossed around like footballs before during and after the conference, and I’m grateful for that. It made me evaluate my interpretation of the word.
One of the ways a person is a leader is if that person encourages collaboration. Leaders break down the barriers between disparate or competing entities especially in times of reduced resources. But, how does that translate into the sphere of continuing education?
How would a CES Provider exhibit leadership to the attendees of a course? Is it just money that drives a provider to collaborate with chapters and firms – to gain access to the members that sign documents? I heard that’s the case, but I suspect there is more to their desire to collaborate than that. Do they wish to collaborate because they have information about new technologies that will excite the attendees? It’s possible that the work they do inspires them, and they want to present their products or services so that others are inspired as well. Also, it’s possible they present lunchtime presentations because they believe those who attend continuing education courses are responsible for supporting a vibrant design profession.
Providers have the content, and they have the enthusiasm, but they must translate that into collaboration with chapters and firms. Before the providers can open the easels that hold their presentations, the chapters or the firms must trust the providers to present quality presentations that are of use to the members. Basically the firm sponsors and the chapter staff are the gate keepers. In this way, the providers are leaders if they are willing cede control and accept others’ terms of collaboration no matter how thrilled they are to talk about their content.
Be guided by the continuing education needs of the members as outlined by the chapters and the firms. If the education you present is what those members need, then it’s win-win. If it’s not, then it’s time to attempt a new collaboration with a different component or firm. What do you think?