Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program: Session 1 Recap

Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program
Session Date: 3/8/2024 
Location: McCarthy Construction Denver Office 
Hosted by: Hannah Hobbs &  Mackenzie Huber 
Recap written up by: Kari Lawson & Caleb Leftin 


Session 1: Management & Mentorship

Session Description

Key Takeaways


  • Edgar Dales Cone of Experience 
  • Maslow Hierachy of Needs 
  • Linda Phillips-Jones Meente’s Guide & Mentor’s Guide 
  • Emotional Intelligence 2.0 

Key ways to manage an effective team 

  • Build empathy. Care about who you are working with – and for.
  • Agency + accountability = Ownership.
  • Clearly state expectations. People can’t read minds.
  • Clearly state goals. Design parti, project vision, and defining principles.
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Listening to Learn: A Pathway to Rewarding Leadership

Michele Raftery, a partner/principal at 4240 Architecture, shared her insight and wisdom on active listening. Effective listening is key to job performance and enhancing relationships. It’s a critical but often overlooked skill necessary for information gathering, understanding, and learning. Edgar Dale’s ‘Cone of Experience’ shows we remember only 20%-50% of what we hear, underlining the importance of active listening. This involves attentiveness, minimizing distractions, understanding verbal and nonverbal cues, and engaging with the speaker through questions and clarifications. 

Active listening fosters trust and empathy, essential for building strong relationships. Recognizing and overcoming barriers like environmental distractions and personal biases can improve listening skills. Strategies to enhance active listening include embracing positive habits, conducting self-checks, and actively seeking feedback to foster a culture of open communication. 

Addressing personal needs as outlined in Maslow’s Hierarchy can also prepare individuals for better listening, making it a cornerstone of effective teamwork and interpersonal connections. 

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Managing the Trifecta: Teams, Projects, and Clients

Rick Peterson, FAIA, Principal at OZ Architecture, led a presentation with refreshing candor on what it takes to balance the moving targets of project relationships. Managing a successful team requires a balance of empathy, agency, and accountability, fostering a sense of ownership among team members. Setting clear expectations and goals is essential. Addressing issues. Effectively involves taking responsibility, careful scheduling to avoid overcommitment, and empowering team members to take ownership and feel proud of their work. Effective communication and collaboration, especially in person, create an atmosphere of opportunity and enjoyment, aiming to make everyone successful. Common challenges include misplaced optimism by architects, unmet expectations, and mismatches of roles or team dynamics, such as having the right people in the wrong seats or incompatible team members. Overcoming these hurdles through strategic management and a supportive environment is key to team effectiveness. 

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The Importance of Mentorship

Geneva Kowalski, the principal and majority partner at Studio K2 Architecture highlighted the importance of mentorship by telling her story of different mentors she’s had over the years. 

Mentorship can show up in many different ways – it can be a formal program set up by a workplace or it can be sought out and doesn’t have to be as defined or rigid of a relationship. Relationships outside of the mentee’s firm can be equally or more important, and can be someone in a professional organization, or someone the mentee has worked with in the past.Sometimes a mentor can be someone that you are frequently meeting with and can help you with day-to-day question. Other times, a mentor can be someone that is only met with on occasion and can help with bigger-picture ideas and long-term career growth.Mentorship can have many benefits including knowledge transfer, help networking, giving constructive feedback, and helping with career and personal growth. 

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Panel: Differing Perspectives on Mentorship in the A/E Industry

The Panel consisted of 4 representatives of different aspects of the A/E industry: an architecture firm, A/E firm, General Contractor, and Developer. The panel was led by Todd Afflerbaugh, an architect at BVH. Todd asked many pointed questions about how mentorship showed up in each panelist’s own experience. The responses of panelists often paralleled each other, highlighting the importance of having someone to lean on during your career. Mentorship is not an everyday task, but something that is periodic. It differs from career management in the sense that it can provide personal guidance and a mentor can be an advocate for a mentee within their firm. Within firms, it can be important to have a formal structure in place, and a timeline established for the relationship so there can be a clean break if necessary, or the relationship can continue if desired. Important qualities of a mentee are being able to define their needs, asking critical questions, seeking honest feedback, and a desire to learn.A mentor-mentee relationship is always two-ways, and the mentor can learn from the mentee as well. 

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