Leadership playbook

Why a leadership playbook?

In the past I have found myself in leadership positions (small team), so I took the time to develop leadership skills. This playbook showcase what I have experienced and the tools I have used.

Depending on the firm I want to work for, I am also happy to be a senior individual contributor.

Developing the team’s values

An important aspect of my leadership playbook is to help individuals live the organisation's values and mission.

I often start by defining the team's aspirations, and the type of team they want to be. To help the team lives the organisation's values, for each value the team unpack behaviours that they want to see more or less of. I use the values to establish a base for conversations that happen during the hiring process, 1:1s, team retrospectives, and reward system.

Part of a workshop I designed and led to unpack the team values.

Alignement with the business

I ensure that my team remains connected to the business strategy, aligned with the organisation mission, and vision. I also make sure the current capabilities of my team deliver a competitive advantage. To keep the team aligned, I involve the team to:

  • Connect design metrics to the business health
  • Create strategy map covering; financials, customers, operationals, learning and growth
  • Define the team we want to be, including reward and failure
  • Map the forces against the team we want to be, and forces supporting the team we want to be
  • Maintain course towards a mission

Workshop I designed and led with a team.

Managing the team day to day

I make sure I understand the different strategies in the organisation, for example; marketing, sales, engineering and product. This understanding helps me lead the design team towards the organisation vision.

For my team, I make sure I have those rituals in place:

  • Daily standups to identify any blockers and have a status update.
  • Fortnightly design critique a safe space for the team to discuss the work.
  • Monthly retrospective a forum to keep the pulse on the team, and improve the ways of working.
  • Goal check in, to make sure we remain align with the busines strategy.
  • Training sessions, I either facilitate or invite an expert.
  • Team offsites to align the team, for example, by workshopping the team values.

Running a training session for the team.

1:1s, mentoring and coaching plans

I organise fortnightly 1:1s, they are an addition to a continuous support when doing the work. The 1:1s helps me define and keep track of the designer’s career goals. I love using Fellow as a companion app for my 1:1s!

To support the 1:1s, I keep track of the designer's career goals by creating mentoring or coaching plans, this helps make sure that me, and the organisation, are invested in the designer's growth.

Helping a designer acquiring a new skill.

Design critique, Lunch & Learn, and fun!

To help the team discover new perspectives on design, I organise design critique sessions where everyone can improve their design skills in a safe space. I also organise activities such as the whiteboard design challenge, design card games, lunch and learn with special guests, or invite the team to attend a conference.

A whiteboard design challenge.

Approach to hiring

During the hiring process, I map out the technical skills, behaviours, and communicate information about the company's vision and values. Here is how the process generally looks like:

  • Initial 30 minutes phone call to understand career goals, past experience, interest in the organisation.
  • A 60 minutes portfolio walkthrough where I ask questions about the work, and also unpack interpersonal skills.
  • A 60 minutes catch up between future colleagues and the candidate.
  • A reference check, followed by the offer stage.
  • Kick off of the onboarding program.

I often liaise with experts in the field or colleagues to discuss and refine the hiring process.

Approach to onboarding

I align the team onboarding program with the organisation and add values at certain points in the journey. I see the onboarding in four phases:

  • First day; admin stuff and going for lunch
  • First week; introduction to a buddy, shadow meetings and activities, get to do a 20-20.
  • First month; first 1:1, relationship building, introduction to the team's and organisation's rituals.
  • Second month; relationship building outside of the core team, continuous support, and kicking off career development.

Continuous development

For 12 months I worked on my leadership skills with a professional leadership coach, Amy Gray. Throughout the coaching program for emerging leaders, she helped me; define the leader I want to be, use organisational values effectively, develop hiring techniques, use tools to align myself and a team with the business.

I also attended a 6 weeks course "Strategic Business Thinking for Designers" to improve my ability to frame and sell strategic recommendations, connect design metrics to the business health, map ecosystems and stakeholders, and better negotiate trade-off.

I also read, attend conferences, and listen to podcasts. Some of my influencers are Christina Woodtke, David Marquet, Marty Cagan, Jeff Patton, Laura Klein.

Meeting other leaders.