5 tips to become a great lead designer

I needed a catchy title for my article, so here you are. In fact, these 5 tips I give you here are not the-ultimate-magic-recipe. But these are 5 principles I really believe in, because they come from my own experience. So I won’t say you’ll have to follow it to the letter to become the best lead designer in the world, but it could help you and your team if you apply it.

First, some context: How I became lead designer

I work at PrestaShop (a free open source CMS specialized in e-commerce) since 2015. At the time, I was recruited in the software team as product designer, not as lead designer.

1 | Stay humble

2 | Build a relationship based on trust

It sounds obvious, but it is common to find teams failing this principle. Trusting your team members, knowing that they are able to do their job and do it well, believing in their potential and expertise, letting them express themselves and find their own way of working is crucial. If you want your team to trust you, you have to trust them first.

3 | Accompany with benevolence

Accompanying with benevolence encompasses 2 points:

  1. Benevolence is crucial. Designers need to experiment, and failure is part of experimentation. And all human beings need time to learn and develop their skills. Accompanying with benevolence is about leading with empathy, patience and kindness. We are not robots. We are people, with emotions, weaknesses and strengths in the same time, sensitive to stress. So benevolence is crucial, mostly if you want your team to stay for long.

4 | Federate the team

Gathering is the key to work as a team. Here are a few tips to federate people:

  • Work together as often as possible. Your team members should consider the others as partners. If they’re used to work together, and help each other, your team will be stronger.
  • Organize workshops to develop your team’s skills. For example, at PrestaShop we do whiteboarding session once a week during lunch time. It is informal and optional, and it is open to product managers if they want to try. We do it to develop our design skills together by interacting and challenging each others. We do it with benevolence. These whiteboarding sessions were at first an idea from one member of the design team. It didn’t come from me. She wanted to test a whiteboarding session once. We enjoyed a lot the exercise and the benefit it brought us, so now we are used to practice it. I also try to align the team skills with small training sessions. These are just examples. No matter the form of the exercise, workshops are efficient to strengthen the team’s relationship.

5 | Let people go

Yep, this is it.

Thank you

Thanks for reading this article. If it was interesting or if you have any point of view to share on the topic, let me know!