Phil King, a design executive at Flickr, explains how designers can become strong leaders and add value to companies of any size.
Find Your Seat at the Table – Use broad design thinking to improve and show your leadership.
- Go above and beyond.
- Solicit feedback from your peers.
- Spot opportunities to be a mentor.
- Embrace learning new skills.
- Absorb, document, and share.
Build Productive Relationships
- Genuinely listen to your peers and offer your insight along the way.
- Your interest and ability to teach make your desire and ability to lead more credible.
- Building empathy with your customer base can help you understand and influence your team.
Grow Your Team Mindfully
- Evaluate your skills and when you aren’t particularly strong in a certain area, hire someone who is.
- Hiring people to fill skills gaps keeps your environment fresh and creative.
- Other tips for hiring team members:
- Involve your current team.
- Gauge the candidate’s self-awareness and humility.
- Optimize your team for collaboration.
Spot Trends and Guide Change
- When making large design changes, organize and direct the creative energy of your team into a collaborative effort with the rest of the company.
- How to get the rest of your company to buy in on your team’s vision:
- Be strategic and ask other teams about their key priorities.
- Be inclusive and share your process with anyone who asks.
- Present ideas as ideas to show flexibility.
Balance Structure and Process
- Organizing people around problems instead of skills helps foster creative thinking and more well-rounded hypotheses.
- Three ways to empower your team:
- Conduct frequent check-ins.
- Create safe space meetings to boost morale.
- Present thoughtfully to the senior staff.
- Provide autonomy and insist on accountability.
- Checking in on a designer’s work is much different from micromanaging.
- Ask to see work and early and often.
- Represent your team well by being a vocal advocate for it throughout the company.
- Bring proposals to the team that show how improved design and a stronger product are directly correlated.