Do you need leadership skills as a UX designer? And if you have leadership experience, how will this help you in your daily work in UX design? Being part of the management team of a national company for several years, I asked these questions myself, and here are my thoughts about using leadership skills as a UX designer.
What is leadership?
Let’s clarify this first and see, what leadership is, or what I understand under the concept of leadership.
If you ask Google “what is leadership” you will get this nice definition, written by The Balance Small Business:
As you can see, leadership is about motivating people in a group that is working towards a common goal. So far, so good. But what does this mean in particular, and how do you do that?
What are leadership qualities?
Leadership qualities are characteristics and behaviors that help you succeed in a leadership role. Some important qualities are
It is useful to be able to leave your point of view aside for a while. So you can get more involved with others, take their perspective, and get a better understanding of their behavior, feelings, and emotions.
Listening is an active process. It’s not waiting for a pause for you to speak. When you listen with attention, you get a more in-depth understanding of what people are saying. Let them talk, explain and share their insights. Avoid interruptions and make sure that you get what they are saying.
In a leadership role, you are responsible for how each person on your team performs and grows. But you also care about how your team as a whole contributes to the company’s goals. Keep this responsibility in mind when making decisions.
Building connections and community
Community creates a mutual sense of responsibility and commitment to the entire team or company. When everybody feels like a part of the team and that their work is valued, it’s easier to work collaboratively towards common goals. Make sure people interact, get in touch, and stay connected – whether physically or virtually.
Supporting for growth
Find out what people are good at, what they need, and how they see their future. Allow them to gain the skills to do their job to the best of their potential, and try to do what you can to help ensure that their future thoughts don’t remain just empty dreams.
Leadership skills in UX design
Until now we were talking about general leadership skills. But these are exactly the skills you need if you want to do really good work as a UX designer. You’re asking yourself why? Let’s have a look:
Empathy and listening
These two are important traits in the UX field. High-quality UX designers don’t design for their own preferences or for design platforms like Dribbble. They always design with the needs of the end-user in mind. As a designer, the best way to find out what those needs are is to ask questions, listen carefully and really understand the user’s point of view.
As a UX designer, you have a lot of responsibility. You are the voice of the users and responsible for solving their problems in the best possible way. On the other hand, you also have a responsibility when it comes to the company’s goals. UX design is an essential factor when regarding the success or failure of a product. Take this responsibility seriously.
Network and community
Making connections and building communities is something you’ll do all the time as a UX designer. In your day-to-day work, you’ll collaborate with many different people: You’ll engage in-depth with potential users, collaborate with developers and product management. You interact regularly with many stakeholders. Therefore it is important that you enjoy working with other people and that you value keeping in touch with them.
You support your team to grow and create amazing experiences. No matter how perfect a product seems to you, there is probably always a way to improve something. As a UX designer, you have the chance to design the user’s experience so that it is smoother, makes them want to use it more, or that it is more accessible.
Final thought: Use what you already know!
Yeah, many of the skills you use in a leadership position also serve you well in your day-to-day work as a UX designer.
Often we are not even aware of these experiences and we think that we are missing the needed know-how. But it’s not always the years and projects you spent on the same tasks, it’s the variety of activities that give you a wide range of experience.
Use what you already know and you can achieve great things in leadership and also in design!