Thoughts on Leadership by someone who doesn’t consider themselves a Leader.
I have no idea if I’m a ‘leader’ of anything, and would be very hesitant to make the claim, but I have been reading things about it recently and it’s got me thinking of a few things that I feel are important to support others, might be relevant…
1 ) In EVERY interaction touch upon both personal AND professional wellbeing. The folks we work with are human beings first, their life is more important than the work no matter what anyone says. If they’re not okay in real life, they won’t be okay at work. Make sure you check.
2) Never be ‘too busy’ to help someone if they ask. They asked you because they value your opinion and that deserves respect back. You can spare 5 mins today, or 15 mins tomorrow. Sometimes all it takes is an ear to listen and fresh perspective to point in the right direction.
3) If you can’t spare 5 mins today, or 15 tomorrow, take a look at your own workflow before even considering commenting on someone else’s, because something is massively broken.
4) You don’t need all the answers, you don’t even need half of them, the only answer you need is “Yes, sometime soon” to the question “Can you help me please?” — People want to work stuff out themselves, they just need a pointer or a breadcrumb in most situations.
5) ENCOURAGE ENCOURAGE ENCOURAGE, Nearly every blocker is due to a lack of confidence that they’re doing the right thing, or doing it in the right way. There is no ‘right’ way. Thinking is messy, and confusing, reassure them that’s alright, they’ll get there.
5a) It’s useful to fit processes (particular in #design or #ux) into neat geometric diagrams, but sometimes those geometric diagrams can restrict rather than release the thoughts you need to harness to progress. In that case, support the person in smashing them open.
6) Encourage comes with a caveat — it’s important to make sure you’re realistic and it’s your responsibility to make sure you let them know of any pitfalls you can forsee early on. If you notice a trap they’re wandering into, tell them, upfront and honestly why, where and how.
7)Be human and as clear as poss in your explanations. Jargon literally helps no-one, if they’re confused or stuck don’t make it worse by throwing new complicated terminology into the mix. Be a human helping a human.
8) Just be KIND… This world is a messed up and scary place, people are trying their best. Allow experimentation, allow mistakes, allow going down dead ends, they are all important steps to getting to the right place, both as a person and a professional.
9) SOME people ARE just dickheads. Always remember that. Identify early and avoid.
… I should have thought of a number 10…
10) Think about the UX of your leadership process as well as the Leadership of your UX process.