A Leadership Framework for the Future

March 1, 2003
Anita L. Barnett, FIIDA

A Leadership Framework for the Future

The International Interior Design Association has long-committed itself to advancing the value of the profession of interior design and to supporting its practitioners, cultivating and recognizing leadership in the profession. IIDA's strength is in its members and we look to our grassroots leaders for mobilization for the future.For IIDA, leadership is not just about achieving a certain level in one's firm or filling an elected position within a volunteer group. True leadership means more. IIDA is committed to visionary and innovative leadership forever open to new ideas; integrity evidenced by ethical, honest and credible behavior; reliance and regard toward knowledge-based solutions; and belief in the value of collaboration. These leadership qualities may be intrinsic to an individual's personality, but often need to be taught. The significant success and high participation in IIDA's 1st Annual Student Mentoring Week this February was indicative of the priority given to leadership by example by both the association as well as our members.Collaboration between leaders in the design industry has been highlighted in recent years by the IIDA Leader's Breakfast series. Based on a program model incubated in the New York Chapter, the regional breakfasts are now organized by local chapters with the support of IIDA Headquarters. Each event is generously underwritten by national sponsors and overseen at the international level, but each breakfast takes on the character of its hosting city and volunteers. At each location, attendees are treated to intriguing speakers, peer networking opportunities and the chance to honor leaders in the field of interior design. Distinguished keynote speakers have included John Hockenberry, veteran newsman and "Dateline NBC" correspondent; Julian Bond, chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; and Nicholas Graham, CEO of Joe Boxer. Each reflects on their own style of leadership and the factors that have led to their success. While the keynote speakers have been a distinguished group, these breakfasts also present the opportunity to recognize local honorees for their often outstanding leadership in our industry. In 2002, honorees included Hilda Longinotti, Herman Miller; Jeannie Bochette, Steelcase, Inc.; Judith L. Lichtman, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families; Richard N. Pollack, FIIDA, FAIA, Richard Pollack & Associates; and Eva Maddox, FIIDA, Perkins & Will/Eva Maddox Branded Environments. Each has demonstrated the highest standards of achievement and has added to the continued advancement and recognition of the interior design profession.While each individual clearly displays excellence in leadership in their own companies, the prominence of so many of the individuals within the interior design profession indicates that leaders are not just created in places of employment. Certainly, the teamwork necessary to advance depends not only on successful design and a vision for the future of design, but also on business project management. Yet, volunteer service, the process of mentoring and leading others while serving in elected positions and committee roles, is a qualifying characteristic of each of the honorees as well.As members throughout IIDA have learned, the committee structure of non-profit governance is a perfect opportunity to develop leadership skills in a supportive environment. Committees allow chapters to discover new talent and to promote the value of collaboration to the achievement of goals. As any number of chapters can attest, collaboration for successful events many times must incorporate professionals from other organizations as well. Successful events with AIA, ASID, IFMA and others attest to the value of a collaborative spirit. The Green Design Education Initiative Web site is a vivid testament to that fact. Leaders from IDEC and IFMA paired with IIDA's College of Fellows' Green Design Committee, chaired by Michael Bourque, FIIDA, to launch this resource to share and disseminate information about green initiatives.True leadership involves inspiring by example, and the most successful stories of leaders are often supported by teams. Leadership explores new frontiers and 2003 could be a special year as we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' historic first flight and the 200th anniversary of Lewis and Clark's exploration of the American West frontier. With those significant events of exploration into new frontiers to inspire us, what new frontiers of design will our leaders of today start to explore? Can the intrinsically collaborative model of the interior design profession provide a model for new leadership? We look to our grassroots community for the answer.IIDA president Anita Barnett is vice president and corporate practice group leader for Hammel, Green and Abrahamson, Inc. IIDA is headquartered in space 13-122 at The Merchandise Mart, Chicago, and can be reached at (888) 799-IIDA or by visiting

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