Leading a Design Team: 3 Rules of Thumb

Leading a design team is a balancing act. As a design leader, you’re constantly moving between two camps (your client and your team­) playing messenger and sometimes mediator for both sides. In addition to technical skills and experience, leading a team of creatives also demands flexibility, vision, grace, and the ability to translate “client-speak” into “design-speak.” (Thankfully, Diace Design’s Chief Creative Officer has all of these qualities!) If you find yourself leading a design team, consider the following guidelines to be rules of thumb.

1.  Start with an Open Mind

All creative professionals must keep an open mind. This is especially critical for design leaders. Keeping an open mind will allow you to better understand what your clients’ needs, wants, and expectations are. It will help you break out of a one-size-fits-all marketing mindset. By clearing your mind before you meet with a client, you allow space for new ideas and perspectives. Your client may even surprise you with an idea or concept you hadn’t thought of yet!

2.  Advocate for Your Client and Your Design Team

Leading a design team means empathizing with both your client and your designers. Sometimes, what the client wants just isn’t possible given their budget or time constraints. And sometimes designers get attached to their work, prioritizing aesthetics over strategies. As a leader, it’s important that you work hard to understand both perspectives and problem-solve any misalignment until you find the best solution for all parties. This will help you develop positive long-term relationships with both your client and your design team.

3.  Go Beyond Expectations

Just as important as listening to what your client says is listening for what is not said. Sometimes, this means reading between the lines, and other times it means scouring through content to find the high-level selling points your client may have overlooked. Integrate these “golden nuggets” into the overall design vision for the project, pushing the boundaries of what’s expected. It will lead to creative work that withstands the test of time and helps your client achieve significant long-term goals.

Design leaders need to understand the vision clients have for the future and how design can help them get there. Keep an open mind, work to see all perspectives of a project, and think beyond the short-term scope to enhance the value of what you’re providing. That’s the way Diace Designs does business. Want to work with us?


About Kara Franco
Kara writes copy that speaks. She has a knack for creating clear, compelling messages without wasting words. She is passionate about digital marketing and believes that copy is the cornerstone of user experience.

Copywriter + Content Strategist
Kara@diacedesigns.com