A successful UX leader is a creative leader

Leading with creativity no matter your tenure, job title or craft.

Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk: How Great Leaders Inspire Action

What is creative leadership?

Traditional vs. Creative leaders list of examples
A portion of the list by Maeda and Bermont comparing traditional and creative leaders

How to be a creative leader

Traditional leaders are literal. Creative leaders are storytellers.

  1. Know your audience
    The more you understand your audience, the easier it is to adapt your story to resonate with them. For example, a stakeholder or client will have a different level of knowledge than a team member.
  2. Know your purpose
    Be clear about why you are speaking to this audience and what you want to achieve by telling your story. Tell the right story at the right time to make it clear, engaging and inspiring to your audience.
  3. Connect with people
    Think about how you want your audience to feel while listening to your story. Use the five senses (touch, smell, taste, sight and feel) and add rhythm and tone to build deeper connections.
  4. Practice
    Delivery is key. Be prepared to be most effective.
Woman standing at a whiteboard with post-its
Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash

Traditional leaders avoid risks. Creative leaders take them.

Man bungee jumping over the sea
Photo by Anoof Junaid on Unsplash

Traditional leaders avoid mistakes. Creative leaders love to learn from them.

Large sign that says Love to Learn on a crayon shape
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Traditional leaders take on limited feedback. Creative leaders are open to unlimited critique.

  1. Ask for feedback early and often
    It’s essential that everyone — from stakeholders to direct reports or team members — has the opportunity to and is encouraged to voice their opinion. This helps leaders see the big picture, understand the impact of their actions and think more creatively.
  2. Listen to understand and ask questions
    Listening is key to receiving feedback. To actively listen, face the speaker, establish eye contact, notice non-verbal cues, don’t interrupt and listen without judgment. Do your best to stay focused and resist planning what you will say in response. Ask open questions and take your time to respond.
  3. Know it’s not personal
    Feedback is about behaviour, not about you. If it comes across as personal, ask questions to get to the root cause of the problem. Have follow-up chats as needed.
  4. Reflect and make real change
    Feedback should drive action. That’s not to say that all feedback you receive will be actionable, but you should invest energy in reflection to understand when and how to change. This is where growth happens.
  5. Give thanks
    Giving difficult feedback can be just as challenging as receiving it. Always be thankful and demonstrate kindness on either end.
Two people holding hands together to make a heart
Photo by Edgar Chaparro on Unsplash

Traditional leaders are concerned with being right. Creative leaders are real.

An image of a book on a woman’s lap that says “What I Didn’t Post on Instagram”
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Final thoughts



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