On Leadership, Design Leadership

Institute for Human Centered Design
Institute for Human Centered Design

I attended a two day leadership training retreat, one that the organization sends everyone to regardless of your role, under the premise that no matter what your function is you can display the qualities of a good leader. From past participants, I saw photos of people holstered in ropes, blindfolded etc. Prepared for the worst, I donned my t-shirt, gym pants and a pair of run-down sneakers. I was ready for whatever would be dished out, except bugs..especially not spiders.

As usual, I was surprised. No swinging from trees. It was a beautiful and reflective few days where I gained a view of leadership (for the professional world) that I haven’t see communicated in this way. The main points are that true leaders*:
1. Lead by personal example
2. Develop cooperative relationships with people they work with
3. Follow through on commitments
4. Treat everyone with dignity and respect
5. Empower people by giving them the freedom to choose
6. Show gratitude and humility
7. Encourage and never discourage either by word or by deed

Good examples of leadership in the design and technical professions can be hard to come by if measured by the above criteria. Hubris and heroics can seem to reign over humility and cooperation. Yet looking around, I can point to wonderful examples of true leadership I have been exposed to. I’m thankful to the many positive examples of leadership I have had in my professional life (and beyond) and I will let them know this.

Many lessons learned, ideas to apply. And yes there were bugs, even spiders.

Training was based on the book: The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner

Published by Jennifer Otitigbe