What Makes a Great Design Manager?

Stolen from:
http://www.uxmatters.com/MT/archives/000281.php, "So You Want to Be a UX Manager—Seriously?" which is worth reading in its entirety.

Successful managers are:

  • accountableTake
    responsibility for results and hold themselves, peers, and direct reports
    accountable for achieving established goals and objectives.
  • customer focusedClearly
    communicate what a team can do to achieve stakeholder or customer
    expectations, without over promising, and understand the cost/benefit
    ramifications of their recommendations to stakeholders and customers.
  • results drivenWillingly
    establish and apply performance measurements, set high performance standards
    for themselves and direct reports as necessary to achieve customer
    expectations, and implement significant consequences—positive and negative—for
    achieving or not meeting performance expectations.
  • open and effective
    Create an atmosphere in which
    high-quality information flows smoothly through an organization and to
    stakeholders, in a timely manner, and encourage the open expression of ideas
    and opinions. Creating such an atmosphere means you must wait for another
    person to finish his or her intended message before responding, disseminate
    more than the minimal amount of information people need, and respond
    positively when stakeholders or direct reports voice negative issues.
  • effective managers of
    Hire individual contributors who are as smart
    as or smarter than they are; surround themselves with the greatest talent;
    strive to bring out the best in others, regardless of their current
    performance levels; delegate authority and responsibility to others, allowing
    them to use their abilities and talents effectively; give feedback, coach, and
    appraise employees at every opportunity possible—every week, if not every day;
    not just at review time; and respects and tolerates differing opinions.
  • team buildersPromote and
    generate cooperation and teamwork while working to achieve collective
    outcomes, give credit for success and recognition to the team rather than
    seeking credit for themselves, and encourage individuals to contribute to the
    organizational strategy. As Jack Welch says, they “get every mind in the

These competencies embody a few key points. There is an
overwhelming amount of research and expert opinion showing that, in
addition to the six competencies I’ve listed above, great managers and leaders

  • respectful—Treat individuals on their teams
    as professionals and address them with appropriate respect. They are not out
    to make themselves look good, but to help their employees execute their
    responsibilities well, and—yes—to build employee confidence.
  • natural mentors—Are great coaches and find
    deep joy in helping their employees grow their careers and execute at a very
    high level.
  • emotionally intelligent—Are direct, yet
    compassionate and tactful.
  • able to see the big picture—Look out not
    only for their teams, but for the larger organization and company.
  • decisive—Make hard choices quickly and
    recognize they may need to make frequent course-corrections.
  • life-long learners—Seek feedback regularly
    from peers, direct reports, and their managers and have a passion for
    improving themselves.

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