Let’s get the pressing question out of the way - have I managed designers directly? No, I have not; but I have mentored and influenced designers in their careers by helping them uncover what drives them to succeed. I have led multi-disciplinary teams with differing agendas to work together to achieve a unified goal - make exceptional product experiences that users love. I have guided folks with varying arrays of personalities to set aside differences and focus on producing user-centered experiences, all while invoking a sense of ownership for all parties. I have worked at pre-seed startups where I was the entire design department to multi-billion dollar corporations that had 20+ designers creating unforgettable user experiences.
If I could quickly sum up my management style, it’s this: Handle each interaction with grace.
That phrase has been my mantra since I began leading DesignOps at GoGuardian. Is it a simple phrase, yes, but is it powerful? Absolutely. There are so many buzzwords and management styles that are thrown around but handling every interaction with grace is what has gotten me to influence change as a servant leader. Leading DesignOps has been a fascinating journey. I created the department with the sole purpose of force multiplying designers to impact the edtech space and our design industry on the whole.
Ultimately I believe that the role of a design manager is to listen, coach and to elevate designers.