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Episode 011: Thinking Differently About Leadership, Engagement and Communication

Today’s episode of the AEC Leadership Today podcast features Randy Wilburn. Randy is the Chief Encourager, as well as a Consultant, Trainer, Speaker, and Podcaster with Encourage Build Grow. 

We Aren’t Just Hiring Employees, We’re Hiring Complete Individuals

Randy is a veteran of the design industry and has held many roles. He is passionate about training and encouraging design professionals and leaders and he is now focusing on his passion at Encourage Build Grow. 


“A good leader cultivates their employees just like a good farmer cultivates the land.”

—Randy Wilburn


In this episode, we discuss:

  • Why a good leader is always working themselves out of a job. It’s not because they aren’t good at their jobs, it’s because they see the value in developing their employees. When we cultivate our employees, give them opportunities to grow, and we are giving them the resources they need to be the best person for their job, those people will naturally grow in our organizations. 
  • It might feel like a risk, but giving young employees exposure to clients and professional opportunities early is in our interest. Millennials and Gen Z, more than previous generations, want to be included and “in the mix.” So introducing them to clients and big projects early on will help to engage them longterm and develop their communication skills. Sure they might make mistakes or even fail sometimes, but as leaders, we have to admit that we have failed ourselves, and it’s okay to learn from our mistakes. 
  • How helping our employees become financially successful in their personal lives is an advantage for our whole organization. There was a study done recently by the Financial Fitness Education Organization that says for every one dollar spent helping to teach employees financial wellness, there was a 3 to 1 return for the organization. Employees that are financially stable are more present, more attentive, and they even understand more about how business works. 
  • Why communication is important for leaders and employees, and it all starts with listening. If we aren’t listening to our clients and to each other, we could be missing out on opportunities to make our projects the best they possibly can be. For example, if you aren’t listening to your clients and learning the crux of what is important to the project, even if you are doing everything else right, you are doing your client a disservice. 
  • How even introverts can be great at communicating; they just might need some training. We know that the AEC community has plenty of self-labeled introverts. But with proper training, anyone can learn effective communication skills. And helping your employees learn this skill, can help engage them in both the workplace and the marketplace. 
  • Why some firms are turning to internal podcasts to help share and enhance the firm brand with everyone in the firm.  Most of us recognize that podcasts have really taken off in the past ten years. Many people even admit that if they’re not working on or doing something that requires hyperfocus, they put on a podcast. So why not release a company podcast? This will help unify the workplace culture and reach everyone in the company when important announcements come out.  It could even help increase your brand and presence outside of your organization. 


“When you hire somebody, you hire a complete individual. You bring on all their idiosyncrasies – all their talents as a design professional and all their baggage. Everyone brings baggage to the table.”

—Randy Wilburn


Randy has so much to say about leadership and issues that matter to today’s design professionals, and I wish we could have talked longer!  We covered a myriad of topics, and I hope it gets you thinking differently about leadership, engagement, and communication. 

About Randy Wilburn

Randy Wilburn is a Consultant, Trainer, Speaker, and Podcaster with Encourage Build Grow, a firm created to provide leadership, career, and personal development, and interpersonal communication skills for the architecture and engineering industry. 

Excited about helping people and organizations achieve their goals and be the best they can be, he has a desire to help design and technical service firms achieve their stated and unrealized goals and objectives through developing their team one person at a time.   

Randy has worked with AEC firms throughout the U.S. on a variety of needs – including executive search and recruiting, training, leadership strategies, strategic business planning, project management, marketing, social media strategies, sales, and more.

Randy is a graduate of Howard University and The Summer Leadership Institute at Harvard University. He is a certified Business Coach and a Teacher in Biblical Entrepreneurship through the Nehemiah Project.

You can find out more about Encourage Build Grow on their website and listen to his podcast of the same name!


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About the Host

Peter C. Atherton, P.E. is an AEC industry insider having spent more than 20 years as a successful professional civil engineer, principal, major owner, and member of the board of directors for a high-achieving firm.  Pete is now the President and Founder of ActionsProve, LLC, author of Reversing Burnout. How to Immediately Engage Top Talent and Grow! A Blueprint for Professionals and Business Owners, and the creator of the I.M.P.A.C.T. process. Pete works with AEC firms to grow and advance their success through better strategic planning implementation, executive coaching, performance-based employee engagement, and corporate impact design.

Episode 011: Thinking Differently About Leadership, Engagement and Communication