Q&A with J. Brett Blanton, 12th Architect of the Capitol
On Thursday, January 16, 2020, J. Brett Blanton was sworn in as the 12th Architect of the Capitol by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. at the U.S. Supreme Court Building.
Q: Why did you want to be the next Architect of the Capitol?
A: To answer this question, I must begin with the mission of the Architect of the Capitol: Serve, Preserve and Inspire. It is the Serve aspect that is most inspiring to me. I hope to maintain the legacy of my 11 predecessors and usher in a new era for the Architect of the Capitol (AOC).
Q: What are your first priorities as Architect of the Capitol?
A: My initial priorities will center around our human capital. We will transform the culture to one of transparency, accountability and responsiveness; harassment of any form will not be tolerated; we will work to better attract and retain a skilled workforce; and we will begin using decision-quality data to drive both budgetary and project management decisions.
Q: What are the lessons you have learned that you hope to bring to the AOC?
A: It is wisest to approach any issue collaboratively until a decision is required. Then make decisive decisions.
Q: What do you want AOC employees to know most about you?
A: I expect candid and straightforward answers to questions I ask. I will always be straightforward when engaging our personnel, so I require the same in return.
Q: How would you describe your style of leadership?
A: My leadership philosophy can best be described as empowering and inclusive. Although responsibility will always remain with me, I believe in delegating authority to practicable levels within an organization. As such, workforce managers will feel more empowered and take more pride and ownership for their day-to-day activities. The results of empowering the workforce include the ability to make accelerated facility decisions and improved customer service.
Q: What do you like to do for fun when you're not at work?
A: I enjoy working out. I need to because one of my other passions is smoking meat.
Q: What’s the best book you’ve read in the last year?
A: I often reread "Lincoln on Leadership." It is an easy read so I would recommend it to everyone. However, I recently read "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln" by Doris Kearns Goodwin. There are key lessons to take away from Lincoln's leadership philosophies such as: collaborating, understanding other points of view, surrounding yourself with people who will challenge you, standing up for deeply held principles, and being bold or decisive when needed.