From Designer To CD: Invaluable Leadership Advice For Propelling Up The Ranks

By Yoon Sann Wong, 12 Apr 2017

Image via Shutterstock

Bosses are common, superb leaders are rare. While many designers aspire to become Creative Directors, transforming oneself from doing the creative work to effectively managing a team of designers is no walk in the park. This coveted role not only requires a shift in mindset and attitude, but also the development of new skills.

David Lesué shares seven invaluable tips to guide the enthused in moving up the ranks. Lesue’s career has taken him from web designer, UX designer and adjunct professor to his current role as Creative Director at Workfront.

Preview three of his seven lessons below and discover the remaining tips here.

1. Let go of being a designer

“As a CD, it’s possible you will do absolutely no design work.”

If designing is your life, be prepared to find a side gig to satiate this thirst. As Creative Director, your job is to manage your team that produces the work.



Remember, you can’t control or do everything; otherwise you’ll become your team’s biggest barrier to getting any work done.

2. Hiring well is your top priority

“[Hire] ‘T-shaped’ people: those with a broad set of skills, but with one particularly deep specialty, which gives you both depth and breadth of capacity.”

To build an excellent team, you’ll need excellent talent. As such, don’t feel threatened or daunted by other highly skilled creatives. Instead of seeing these individuals as competition, perceive them as great additions to your team that can benefit from their skills. Successfully managing an outstanding squad will reflect well on you as a director.

3. Remove obstacles standing in your team’s way

“[This could] mean reprimanding or firing people who were once your peers.”

Looking out for the welfare of your crew means eliminating barriers that obstruct their creative endeavors. This includes managing demanding stakeholders and difficult team members. While it can be stressful and highly unpleasant, you need to look at the bigger picture. Always strive to maintain a positive and healthy environment for your best team players to perform in.

Continue reading Lesue’s lessons about embracing autonomy, accepting that structures are your frenemies, choosing your battles and more here.

[via Creative Review, image via Shutterstock]
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