Top Architecture Leadership Tips and Insight from an Ex-Industry Expert

In the fast-paced world of architecture, where the focus is often on design and technical skills, the importance of leadership and personal development can sometimes be overlooked. However, as Karen Fugle, an executive coach from Sleeping Giant Consulting, highlights in her interview with Stephen Drew on the Architecture Social’s Podcast, these skills are crucial for architects and construction professionals to thrive in their careers.

The Journey from CAD/BIM Management to Executive Coaching

Karen’s journey is a testament to the evolving nature of careers in architecture. Transitioning from a CAD/BIM management role to executive coaching, she found her true calling in helping architects and construction professionals enhance their leadership capabilities. Her experience in the industry gives her a unique perspective on the challenges faced by professionals, especially those transitioning from technical roles to leadership positions.

The Leadership Gap in Architecture Education

One of the critical issues Karen addresses is the gap in leadership training within architectural education. While technical and design skills are heavily emphasized, leadership and management training often take a backseat. This lack of focus can leave professionals unprepared when they suddenly find themselves in leadership roles, managing teams and projects.

The Power of Reflection and Journaling

Karen advocates for the practice of reflection and journaling as tools for personal and professional growth. She emphasizes the benefits of these practices, such as increased happiness, better productivity, improved self-awareness, and enhanced decision-making skills. These tools help professionals understand their strengths, weaknesses, and motivations, ultimately leading to better leadership.

The Importance of Values in Decision-Making

A key takeaway from Karen’s insights is the importance of understanding and articulating personal values. She stresses that being clear about what matters most in one’s work and life is crucial for making good decisions, especially during times of change. When personal values align with professional goals, it leads to greater fulfillment and job satisfaction.

Practical Leadership Skills: Delegation, Feedback, and Difficult Conversations

Karen highlights three essential leadership skills: effective delegation, giving and receiving feedback, and handling difficult conversations. These skills are vital for team leaders to manage their teams effectively, appreciate their members, and maintain a healthy and productive work environment.

Balancing Work and Personal Life

The conversation also delves into the challenge of balancing work and personal life, a common struggle in the architecture industry. Karen and Stephen discuss the importance of meaningful distractions, investing in relationships, and finding fulfillment outside of work. They emphasize that while hard work is essential, it should not come at the expense of personal well-being.


Karen Fugle’s insights offer valuable lessons for architecture professionals at all stages of their careers. Her emphasis on leadership, reflection, and personal values provides a roadmap for those looking to grow and succeed in the industry. For a deeper dive into these topics and more, I encourage you to watch the full interview with Karen Fugal on the Architecture Social’s Podcast. Additionally, for more content curated specifically for architecture students and professionals, visit