10 Lessons Learned: From Designer to Design Team Leader
Transitioning from being an individual contributor designer to a leader and manager of a design team is an exciting and challenging journey. As I started this new role, I quickly realized that there was much more to learn than I had expected. Here are 10 important lessons I’ve learned along the way:
1. Team’s success
Your team’s success is directly linked to your own. As a leader, it’s crucial to empower and support your team members in every possible way. This creates an environment that nurtures growth and success for everyone involved.
2. Thoughtful Communication
Be mindful of your words and emotions. Effective communication is key when leading a team. Your team members react to and absorb the energy you display, so maintaining a positive and composed demeanor is essential for a harmonious and productive work atmosphere.
3. Keeping promises
Never promise something you can’t deliver. Trust is the foundation of a successful team, and losing it can harm your leadership. Avoid making promises you can’t keep and instead be transparent about what you can deliver. Work together to find realistic solutions.
4. Celebrate and Correct
Celebrate team members’ successes openly and provide constructive feedback privately. Recognizing and appreciating their achievements is vital for motivation and morale. Publicly celebrating success boosts confidence and fosters a positive team culture. However, when addressing areas for improvement, it’s best to offer feedback in private to avoid embarrassing anyone in front of others.
5. Building Trust
Learn to keep secrets as team members may share personal matters during one-on-one meetings. As a manager, respecting their privacy and maintaining confidentiality is crucial. Being a trustworthy and discreet leader creates an environment where team members feel safe and supported.
6. Lead by Example
Practice what you preach. Leading by example is a fundamental principle of effective leadership. If you expect your team members to follow certain guidelines or standards, it’s important to embody those principles yourself. Consistency between your words and actions builds credibility and encourages your team to do the same.
7. Protecting the Team
Act as a buffer for your team, absorbing pressure and shielding them from unnecessary stress. Leadership often comes with challenges and pressure, and it’s your role to ensure your team can focus on their work without undue distractions.
8. Balancing Friendliness and Professionalism
Foster positive relationships while maintaining professionalism. Building good rapport with your team members is crucial for a healthy work environment. However, striking a balance between being friendly and maintaining professionalism is important. While creating a comfortable atmosphere, make sure your team understands the importance of their work and the associated expectations.
9. Connecting on a Personal Level
Learn about your team members’ lives, interests, and what makes them happy. Building strong connections goes beyond work-related interactions. Showing genuine interest in their personal lives, hobbies, and aspirations fosters trust, loyalty, and a sense of camaraderie within the team.
10. Regular Check-ins
Finally, regularly check in on your team members. Sometimes, the happy face they present at work may hide hidden struggles. Recognize that your team members are human beings with their own challenges. Taking the time to check in on them shows that you care and helps maintain their well-being.