Leading in design

One of the things I noticed recently is a phenomenal i would like to call title inflation on LinkedIn.

Everyone is either a lead, or a head of something. 

Sometimes I wonder in these large tech companies, who’s actually on the ground doing the “dirty” work?

But then reality hits, and I realize most of these are just self-assigned, overinflated titles.

The rant should end there, but being in the design field myself, I did want to take the time to define what is like to actually lead in design.

One of my mentor/manager have always said, a person should never just “be” a manager or lead one day, they must grow into role naturally.

As one’s responsibilities start to pile up, eventually they will hit a critical point where a single person can no longer complete all of the work at a efficient, high quality manner. In which case, the person would have to scale one self and have others join in executing under similar visions and goals.

You are not a lead if you gave some feedback at a design crit.

You are not a lead if you worked on one particular project over the other

And no, you are not definitely not a lead just because your LinkedIn profile said so.

Instead, you are a lead or a “head” of something when you have done the following (personal opinion)

You work with your counterparts to define a vision and goals, and figure out where your org in particular can make the biggest impact, and therefore focus on.

You influence other people’s work by setting high standards and enable others to do great work.

And lastly, your work and impact should always speak louder than your self assigned titles. It’s really easy to tell if someones all bs and no work after a few minutes into a conversation.