AGP Ep 21: Andrew talks—Why UX professionals make great leaders
For something a bit different, this episode features a recording of a talk I gave last week at the UX Brisbane meetup. But there’s value here for any technical professional. It also includes a short leadership self-test and tips on how you can level-up your leadership superpowers.
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- Video: Why UX professionals Make Great Leaders—The video version with slides
- More about Andrew
- Another talk by Andrew on his leadership journey and #1 leadership lesson
- Ben Melbourne on the Alpha Geek Podcast
- Poor Charlie’s Almanackby Charlie Munger
- The Happiness Advantageby Shawn Achor—Book, Audio book, TED Talk
- Drive by Dan Pink—Book, Audio book, TED Talk
- Gung Ho by Ken Blanchard
- The STAR method for capturing and communicating your achievements
- The Tim Ferriss podcast
- Please subscribe, comment, share and review the episodes, it will make a big difference to our ability to continue with these. Thank you!
- Music by David Cutter
G’day, my name is Andrew Ramsden. I want to talk to you about why UX professionals make great leaders and why you should care. This is a talk I originally gave at the UX Brisbane Meetup Group on the 14th of February 2017. Initially, I just want to talk a little bit about myself. My name is Andrew. I’ve spent the last 15 years or so in the online digital space. [00:03:30] I spent a lot of that time focused on interaction design and front-end development. I was lucky enough to have opportunities to do work in product management and customer research and backend development systems administration, a whole range of different digital skills.
Then was given opportunities to transition into more leadership roles, which I really enjoyed. I had the opportunity to lead some really successful large-scale organisational change initiatives that were underpin by digital technology. [00:04:00] Now, I’m focused on building my own business Alpha Transform. The focus of Alpha Transform is to help large organisations and government agencies with digital transformation and embedding innovation as part of BAU.
Last year, I spent some time travelling around Australia and talking to really good technical leaders from different parts of Australia, exploring their leadership journeys, challenges and successes. I’m putting together a book. I’m drafting a book at the moment for release later this [00:04:30] year. With their permission, I was also able to record some of the interviews and released them as a podcast. That’s the Alpha Geek Podcast. I’ve really enjoyed the conversations. It’s been a fantastic experience. Through these conversations that I guess reflections of my own experience, I’ve been developing frameworks and tools to help others accelerate their leadership journeys.
One recent episode was our very own, Ben Melbourne, who leads the UX Brisbane community and very generously share about his experiences, including agile [00:05:00] thinking, recruiting great talent and how to empower others through your leadership. It got me thinking, “Much of what makes Ben a great leader seems to relate to the processes and philosophies he held as a UX professional, specifically because he was a UX professional.” It also got me thinking that I’d like to give back to the UX community and the UX Brisbane in particular. It’s been a fantastic resource and network over the years. That’s why I’m giving this talk. I’d like to share the lessons I’ve learned in my travels and get a chance to speak with you and learn [00:05:30] from you also.
I think we really need to start with answering the question, “What is leadership?” Interestingly, we ran a poll with the group, the UX Brisbane Group prior to the session. We asked them one question as part of the signup process which was, “How do you feel about leadership as a career path?” It was good to see that around a third felt quite positively about the concept, eight or higher. I can only assume that [00:06:00] the 50% who didn’t answer was because they felt it was a stupid question.
Look, I agree. In fact, I think it’s a trick question really because I don’t believe leadership is a career path per se. I think it’s how you do your job and I believe it’s an important part of everyone’s job. What I mean by that? Leadership is different to management. What we find is that good leaders usually make good managers. See Exhibit A. However, not every good manager is a good leader, Exhibit B, [00:06:30] but also, you don’t have to be a manager to be a leader, Exhibit C.
Management is much more focused on continuing operations of the business and governance and making sure that things are happening as they should. Whereas leadership is much more about influence and driving change. Leaders are confident that they know the right way to go and they bring others with them. You could be a leader and introducing test-driven development or paper-based [00:07:00] prototyping or ethnographic interviews or core reviews or by facilitating design sessions or retro meetings.
You can be a leader in your own field. It means that everyone in the organisation can be a leader. As long as you’re helping others to accept and work with new ideas and in new ways, you’re leading, even if the idea wasn’t yours to begin with. This means the primary skill of a leader is influence. Now, before we get to talk about influence in more detail, I just want to talk about why is leadership [00:07:30] so important.
There’s two principles here. Principle one, people love learning new things, but they like to feel like they discover that knowledge themselves. They really don’t like to be told. Sometimes it even helps if they feel like they came up with the idea themselves. People just like to feel in control and they like to feel smart. When you tell them stuff, they often feel dumb. Now, it’s not a really helpful mindset, but unfortunately, it’s a default reaction for many people.
In a similar vein, people [00:08:00] love exciting, new things and opportunities, but they hate it when change is being thrust upon them. Again, this comes back to control. When you tell someone about a change, the default reaction is emotional and immediate. It’s fear. “What does this mean for me? No, wait. I don’t have time to think that through, so therefore I don’t like it.” Now, when given enough time, people usually realise that the impacts of a change can be dealt with and they still have enough control after that. However, if you trigger that immediate emotional reaction too [00:08:30] hard, it just stick with them and they may never come on board, even if rationally they know it’s all okay.
What do we know about influence so far then? It’s about helping others feel safe and in control until they have the time and space to realise that the impacts of a change or a new idea can be dealt with. Leaders are really important because they help ease this transition for people. This is often called gently bringing people on the journey. Leaders are important because they know this is how to generate buy-in and create a movement [00:09:00] and ultimately make a huge positive impact where others have failed, which means that your value as an expert is multiplied by how well you can spread your excellence around. There’s only so much that you’re in direct control of.
From there, it’s all about influence. The further you can expand your sphere of influence, the more others can benefit from your expertise. Yes, there’s everyone else trying to influence too, which initially looks really painful because our typical experience of trying to experience [00:09:30] each other is quite painful. There will always be other opinions, but that’s a good thing and it doesn’t have to be painful. They’re going to bring their expertise. There’s always going to be give and take. Really, good leaders are open to other’s perspectives and they’ll go along with and support great ideas that others have, which means that it’s more likely that the right decisions will be made as everyone’s sharing their best thinking and we know when to push our ideas or allow other workable ideas through.
Look, working with other great [00:10:00] influencers is where the magic really starts to happen. That’s that flow state and that creativity and enjoyment and innovation. It’s a really fun space. Also, I thought it’s worth pointing out that this spot here looks like someone who fits into that Exhibit B category, someone who’s probably a really good manager. They’ve been promoted up to a large area of control, but they’re not a good leader. They’ve got that small influencing bubble.
Why leadership? Apart [00:10:30] from being an Alpha Geek and having increased influence, impact and income in the workplace and being able to lead others to embrace exciting, new directions, ideas and technologies, why else would you consider leadership as an important part of your career? Well, because the future. The future is looking pretty bleak. Businesses who don’t reinvent themselves and capitalise on new technology are going to become irrelevant and they’ll fail.
Now, this isn’t new. This has been happening for all of recorded history or all of recorded business history [00:11:00] at any rate. I think the pace of change that we’re seeing these days because of technological innovation is driving us a lot faster and it’s harder for organisations to keep up. Still, there’s not going to be enough digital capability to keep up with what’s required by all businesses globally. We’re already suffering, so the digital skills gap is said to cost the UK economy over 63 billion and more than a trillion a year in lost productivity in the US economy. It’s estimated that [00:11:30] in 10 years we’ll see up to a 75% deficit in the amount of people required to deliver all of those digital skills.
For UX professionals, this actually isn’t bad news at all. UX skill are already highly priced and this trend is only going to continue. However, we’re also going to see a trend towards outsourcing much of the digital capability including some aspects of UX, certainly front-end development to overseas firms. [00:12:00] I think there’ll be plenty of work on shore for UX professionals. However, the demand will start to flatten off and fall away eventually.
There’s a longer term trend here we’re going to see consistently grow through this time and continue to increase even after the capability demand starts to weigh in again. That’s very much in the digital and technology leadership space because who’s going to connect the digital capability with the business direction? These guys, the Alpha Geeks. Digitally savvy leaders will [00:12:30] be priced because they understand what’s possible using digital technology, what’s required to make digital transformation happen and how to influence people and bring them on the journey.
Why then do we avoid leadership? Why do UX professionals often avoid leadership? Well, these are the sorts of things that I hear when I talk to UX professionals, “I’ll end up doing management.” You know what? That might be the case. If you end up in one of those leadership positions that is actually a management position, [00:13:00] then yeah, you’re going to have to end up doing management activities. Look for leadership opportunities that don’t include management.
Another thing that I hear is, “It’s selling out.” That also has an element of truth to it, I think, especially if you’re in a situation where you don’t agree with the organization’s direction. In which case, I would argue that even if you’re working in the trenches and you’re focused on your craft, you’re still selling out because there’s still a values [00:13:30] misalignment between what you value and what the organisation values. It’s just made much more apparent when you step into a leadership role. I’d question you to do that thinking whether you’re in leadership or not.
Something else that I hear is around, “I don’t want the extra responsibility.” Fair enough. When you step into leadership roles or you step out into leadership roles, you put yourself out there, you are going to take on extra responsibility. Maybe leadership isn’t for you if that’s the case.
Finally, the last one I hear [00:14:00] is, “People are painful. I just don’t need that.” I can relate to this. I mean, I came from a very nerdy background. I didn’t really understand how to interact with people and I find people really quite difficult. Over the years, I’ve learned that not only are people painful, but people are also wonderful. There’s a real joy getting to know people and understand how to work with them better. Really, that starts with understanding that most people have really good intentions at heart. Sometimes they just struggle to express [00:14:30] themselves. It’s really about saying, “Look, this stuff can be learned. It can be easier. It doesn’t have to be painful,” leaning into a bit of that discomfort until you get to that point.
Here we go, the most important part. Why do UX professionals make great leaders? For me, this is because the UX disciplines give you a headstart in all four areas of influence. What do I mean by that? To me, influence is about [00:15:00] rationale, credibility, clarity and emotional intelligence. Your rationale is about how clear is your thinking. Your credibility is how trustworthy and authoritative you are. Clarity is how clearly you communicate your ideas. Emotional intelligence or otherwise known as the dance is about how well you navigate the context around the conversation, what’s going on for you, what’s going on for the other person, and what do we need to do in this moment to get the most out of it.
If you can do all four of these things, your influence [00:15:30] will just skyrocket. UX professionals have a really good headstart here. Let’s have a look why. When you look at rationale, UX professionals understand the design process. They know to start with problems and they move to solutions. For those of you who code, you get bonus points because coding is by definition an infinite problem solving loop. It seems infinite at any rate. You solve a problem, now you solve the next problem and then you repeat. It’s that ongoing troubleshooting process that means [00:16:00] that you can actually think very, very clearly and rationally through problems. UX professionals in general are just good thinkers and great problem solvers. Our arguments will usually be quite logical and well-formed. This gives us good points for rationale.
Next one is credibility. Here, we find the customer-centric approach. It means that it’s really easy for stakeholders to understand your intentions and know that they’re not selfish. They’re aligned with the customer. They’re aligned with the higher good. This transparency and selflessness [00:16:30] means your credibility is high from the start.
Clarity is very much what UX professionals make their career from. We know how to take complex ideas and simplify them down and only reveal detail as necessary. We get a big headstart in this space. We’re very comfortable with that. UX professionals also understand empathy. It’s at the core of what we do. We need to put ourselves into the customer’s shoes and understand what’s going on for them and their context at the time, how are they feeling, how are they thinking about what [00:17:00] they’re seeing, so that we can make it easier for them to interact with products. Empathy is a foundational component of emotional intelligence as well. That makes it a lot easier for us.
A quick test. I’m going to ask four questions here. I want you to give yourself a rating on a scale from one to 10 and just jot them down somewhere where you are, so you can add them up at the end. First question is around rationale. How aware of cognitive biases are you and do you mitigate against them? [00:17:30] I’m going to bump you up a couple of points straight away by giving you some background about cognitive biases, if you’re not already familiar.
Cognitive biases are just biases in the way that we think and the way that we use our brains that we’re not aware of by default and we have to become aware of them. They affect everyone. Really great example is one called confirmation bias. How that works is when we believe in an idea or an option, we will actually [00:18:00] actively seek out information that confirms our existing belief. This happens now quite readily when you use the internet. If you search on Google, Google starts to understand your preferences and what you like to read and what you click on. It will actually serve you up more of the same and more of similar. This means that Google has become a gigantic confirmation bias engine. Most of the internet works this way these days. Facebook is the same.
We know a little bit about cognitive biases. [00:18:30] A score of 10 for this question would be where you say to yourself, “Hey, I always ask for different opinions and I always actively search for opposing views and I update my argument accordingly.” A score of five would be saying, “I’m aware, but I still know I’m susceptible to cognitive biases.” A score of one would be to say, “You know what? I’m right. Google says so.”
The second question is about credibility. How often do you talk about the customer’s goals [00:19:00] and the person you’re influencing’s problems and goals? A score of 10 here would be, “I always talk about the customer and the stakeholder’s goals.” A score of five would be, “I talk about the customer, but rarely the stakeholder’s goals.” A score of one would be, “I just tell them what they need.”
Question three, “How often do people look confused when I’m speaking?” A score of 10 here would be, “I’m rarely asked to repeat myself [00:19:30] or asked to slow down and listeners rarely looked troubled.” A score of five would be, “I do okay, but sometimes I’m asked to slow down or to use less tech speak or jargon.” A score of one would be along the lines of, “Oh, that look on their face is confused. Okay. I thought they just had stomach cramps.” Complete lack of awareness of when the other person isn’t following.
The final question is around EQ, “How often do I think about [00:20:00] why someone has reacted the way that they did?” A score of 10 here would be to say, “I can usually see their good intentions. They just express it poorly or they respond emotionally.” A score of five would be to say, “I can sometimes see why they reacted the way they did, but often, I just find people to be mean-spirited and painful.” A score of one would be to write people off and say, “They’re just crazy.”
All right. How’d you go? [00:20:30] If you add up your four scores now and you got somewhere between 32 and 40, then I think you’ve got a fantastic foundation for influence in leadership. A score of between 26 and 32, that’s not bad. 16 to 25, there’s some room for improvement there. Anywhere below 16, I’d say you’re an emerging leader. You’re just starting out on your leadership journey. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Now, there’s some resources there for those who are interested if you go to [00:21:00] atrans.co/ux. There’s another version of this test that’s got a lot more detail to it and that’s got a lot more tips and resources. I want to give you some tips as part of this presentation as well. I also want you to just reflect on how was that. Was that a comfortable process going through those questions or an uncomfortable process? I know some of you will be thinking, “Look, those were stupid questions.” That’s a very natural reaction. I want you to hold that thought because we’ll come back to it.
[00:21:30] I’m just going to share some tips with you now that I’ve learned through the conversations with technical leaders and through my own experience. I found through those conversations that interestingly enough, there were some themes that emerged. I’ve taken what I’ve learned over the years and insights from the discussions to distil them into this framework for great leadership, which I call the Six Super Powers of Great Leaders. We’ve got intention, cognition, simulation, inspiration, conversation and persuasion. I just want to talk you through the six of them now. I’ll [00:22:00] give you a bit of an understanding as to some of the ways that you can use these super powers and level up your super powers to increase your influence and your impact and your income in the workplace.
Before we get in to those six though, there’s a foundational element. That’s really a lot to do with your mindset. Remember the discomfort of taking that quick test? Look, no assessment tool is perfect. However, even an imperfect tool or even imperfect questions should get you thinking, “What’s the value here that you can take away? There should [00:22:30] be something you can learn.” The foundation of great leadership is being open to learning from anyone at any time. Really, you could summarise that as a growth mindset or lifelong learning.
It’s important to realise that there’s a humility there, but there’s also a great confidence because if you’re confident in what you know and you’re open to learning from anyone at anytime, you know that you can take that information, assimilate the bits that resonate for you, and really question [00:23:00] the bits and find a way of making that yours.
The second really important mindset as a foundation is to lean into the uncomfortable. If that was an uncomfortable process or going and talking to people is uncomfortable process or having a difficult conversation is uncomfortable, it’s being able to lean into that. That’s a lesson I hear again and again when I talk to great technical leaders. It just expands your comfort zone and therefore, you become much more comfortable doing lots of different things. That gives you more capability.
[00:23:30] Thirdly, the next important foundational mindset is that useful is more important that being correct. This comes up in a whole range of different scenarios. If somebody’s talking to you and you know they’re not correct, rather than spending three minutes going down a bit of a tangent to correct them and let them know that they were wrong, you need to first check in with yourself and say, “Is that the most useful thing I could be doing at this point in time?”
It’s the same with things that you’re trying to say [00:24:00] and how people perceive you is if you think they’re getting off tangent or they’ve made the wrong assessment, again, ask yourself, “Is it important to correct them or what’s useful here? What’s most useful right now in this moment and going forward?” If you apply that mindset over and over again in different situations, you actually find that you spend less time arguing with people about what’s correct and just more time moving forward together constructively.
[00:24:30] Super power number one, simulation. The problems here is that people often make the same mistakes over and over again. Personal growth seems really slow. It’s really hard to work around complex problems, especially in the interpersonal space. Some of the foundational thinking here is that personal growth takes time. I want to tell you it doesn’t take time. Personal growth takes insight. If you can have more insights in a shorter amount of time, you’re going to grow faster. The best way to do this is through personal [00:25:00] reflection. If you can start a personal reflection process, you can think of it like a Mini Agile or Retro, “What went really well today? What didn’t go so well today? How can I make it better going forward?” That actually leads to self-awareness and that self-awareness then eventually leads to embedding of new habits.
Thirdly, that takes us to the idea that keeping a journal is cool. I never used to think that keeping a journal was something that a grown adult should be doing. [00:25:30] I’ve learned over the years that it’s just such a powerful tool for dissecting what’s going on for me in my world, reflecting on what happened, how I could do it differently, what I could learn from it, what I did really, really well that I want to remember to do again in future.
Moving on to super power number two, which is cognition. This super power directly relates to the rationale element of influence. I guess it comes from this assumption that humans are really logical. When in reality, [00:26:00] humans are imperfect thinking machines. This has to do with a number of factors, most prominently, the cognitive bias, emotions and fatigue. Once you’re aware of that, the good news is you can use decision frameworks to improve the speed and quality of your decisions. There’s other things you can do to preserve your decision making capability.
I want to point you at this point to Charlie Munger because he’s developed his own system of mental models and frameworks to run decisions through and help mitigate against biases. [00:26:30] A fantastic book is called Poor Charlie’s Almanack. I’ll link to it from the resources page with this video. He talks about a range of different biases. One of the really interesting ones is when you’ve got a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Another one that we’ve talked about already is that confirmation bias. It’s such an important one to be aware of.
Third super power is intention. This relates directly to credibility and trust because people judge trustworthiness [00:27:00] by three things. There’s integrity. You do what you say you will. There’s reliability. You behave in predictable ways. Then there’s intentions. Are your intentions selfish or are they genuine? Do you my and others’ best interest in mind? This is where spending some time asking questions and listening to your stakeholder talk about their problems is really, really important, but it’s also important to be clear on your intentions going in.
If you find that your intentions are selfish, then you [00:27:30] need to think again. You need to find what are their intentions, “What’s a bigger intention that I can link to?” You have to be genuine about that. If you’re not genuine about it, people can see through those unauthentic intentions. They’ll see through that using your language and your actions and you’ll burn your credibility big time if you’re not being genuine.
If you spend that time asking questions, listening to your stakeholder talk about their problems and what they’re trying to achieve and incorporating that into your plans, then you’re going to find that they really trust you. They trust [00:28:00] that you’ve got their best intentions at heart. This is also we’re talking about the customer needs and the customer outcome scores you big points. Any higher purpose other than your own goals will score well here.
Fourthly, we’ve got inspiration. Great leaders inspire those around them everyday, but not through fetes of stunning intellect or arousing pep talks, but through their presence and attitude alone. What we find is it’s really hard to motivate and energise and sustain yourself and others over time. It’s hard to inspire [00:28:30] others to keep fighting a good fight in the face of constant resistance and hurdles. You can be that source of inspiration. It’s really about your energy and how you work with others. You got to keep your energy levels up. You need to look after yourself and your health first, which means getting a good night sleep. It means drinking water. It means eating good, nutritious, healthy food. It means getting exercise. It’s really important.
There’s also lots of great research that’s been done by Shawn Achor. You [00:29:00] can read about it in the Happiness Advantage. Interestingly, he found in the workplace that success doesn’t lead to happiness. However, happiness leads to success. There’s always a place for realistic assessment of situations. We don’t want to be caught in a situation where we’re always looking through rose-colored glasses and therefore, biassing around decisions.
However, in general, if you can be positive and help others to be positive in the workplace, you’ll sustain your energy and the energy of others better over time and be [00:29:30] more successful on the haul. You look for those silver linings. There’s always an opportunity and a crisis. You have to remind people to keep looking for the positives and working towards them.
It’s also really important to understand what motivates people and how to motivate them, which is subtly different concepts. There’s two resources I’ll point you to respectively. The first one is called Drive by Dan Pink. In his book, he talks about how people are motivated by either autonomy, mastery or purpose. [00:30:00] Also check out Gung Ho! by Ken Blanchard. In that book, he talks about how to really put this into practise within a team or when leading a movement.
Now, the fifth super power is conversation. This relates directly to clarity. A common complaint of digital leaders is we give way too much detail and expect the listener to do the same analysis that we did to reach the same conclusion. It’s not their job to do the analysis. That’s why they pay us. We’re looking for Goldilocks communication [00:30:30] here, not too little, not too much, just right. We need to think about the UX of that conversation. What is the listener trying to achieve? What do they need to know right now?
A great way to start is called Chunking. This is about splitting you on the spot responses into three or four chunks, so that they’re easily digestible. You’ll notice that throughout this presentation a lot of what I want to talk to you about is broken down into three or four chunks just to keep it comprehensible and digestible.
You can [00:31:00] even start by saying, “I think there are three things we need to consider, X, Y and Zed. Which would you like to know more about now?” Give the listener the opportunity to pull information from you that they need rather than overloading them.
The final super power here is persuasion. This really brings all the other super powers together to create really powerful influence, persuading people of your ideas. First, we need to understand that persuasion isn’t a fight. It’s a dance. That means that harder [00:31:30] you push, the more they’re going to push back. You need to lead them gently around your way of thinking even if that means they think that they’re leading because what does that really hurt? At the end of that, you’ve still influenced, you’ve still got to where you needed to be. Again, it comes back to saying, “Well, look. I could correct them and let them know that it was my idea and I was leading them,” but is that really most useful? Because again, people like information, but they don’t like to be told, so they’re just going to resist that.
You also need [00:32:00] to be open to them leading and bringing their valid perspective to the mix. You’re going to come up with better decisions and outcomes as a result. Sometimes the best leader is a good follower. Secondly, we have to understand that emotion is more powerful than logic. You can’t fight emotion with logic. That only escalates people’s bad feelings and their ill-will towards you. It only means that you need to address emotions first, which could be just building rapport first before starting a conversation [00:32:30] about anything, checking in with the other person, are they okay, if nothing else. This makes them aware of the bad state that they’re in and the philtre and the bias that they’re bringing to the conversation from the start, so they can mitigate against that themselves.
We also need to be aware that emotions will come up during the logical discussion. You can try to predict those if you can and be ready for them. If nothing else, be mindful of how the other person is reacting and if emotions have been triggered in which case, abandon [00:33:00] the logic. You actually have to deal with those emotions first. Emotions are always going to win and they need to now be addressed. .
That can often just be as simple as making the other person feel heard. You can start by saying to them, “Look, I get a sense that you might be frustrated at the moment,” or “I get a sense that this may be something that you’re finding difficult or you’re finding upsetting.” Also, that gives them an opportunity to tell you about what they are feeling and what they are thinking and listening to that [00:33:30] and acknowledging and just saying, “Look, I understand the way that you’re feeling,” or “I can see why you would feel that.” It makes them feel heard and gives them the sense that their emotions are legitimate. People need that for them to then be able to let go. Once you can see those emotions subside, you can return to the logical argument. It’s not always quite that simple, but that’s all we’re going to have time for today.
That’s the Six Super Powers [00:34:00] of Great Leaders. I just want to talk a little bit more now about how you can use those to increase your influence, your impact and your income in the workplace, specifically some practically steps about how to get opportunities and promotion. Once you’re committed to self-development and you have some good retains going on to optimise your learning, how do you actually get into leadership positions and get promoted? You can be a leader from your current role. Just start. Find a problem in your [00:34:30] organisation. You don’t even need a specific solution in mind. In fact, it’s often better if you don’t think too hard about the solution upfront because then you’re open to other people’s ideas. You’re not biassing yourself into a corner.
Go talk to others about the problem. Form a group. Facilitate discussion. Encourage people to take action. You’re going to need patience and persistence and practise dealing with difficult people, but even if you don’t solve that problem, you’ll be winning because your leadership skills are growing and you’ll be learning. Just repeat that process. Keep doing it.
[00:35:00] Secondly, you want to make your boss’ life easier and make your boss look good. If your boss looks really good, they’ll get promoted or another job. They’ll be saying great things about you and you’re likely to get a short-term opportunity, if nothing else, which brings me to the third one. If you get opportunities to do the job, even if you’re not getting paid for it, you should do it. To start with, you’re still getting paid, except now you’re getting paid to learn and improve your resume. That’s a huge win.
Also, remember to record your achievements as you go [00:35:30] because they can be really easy to forget, especially the detail around the organization’s perspective and what value are they getting from that. What’s the business or the customer problem that you solved and how valuable was it to them? You should look at using the STAR methodology to capture that, if you’re familiar with that. If you’re not, S stands for the situation. What situation were you in? T is the task that was assigned to you or the task you decided to pick up and run with. A is the actions that you took and R [00:36:00] is the result or the benefit that came out of that. Then you can pimp your resume with these fantastic examples and talk to these in interviews.
There we go. That’s it for this presentation. I’ve just got three final top takeaways to go away with. Number is if you’re not all ready, start thinking of yourself as a leader and an influence. Just do it. As a UX professional, you’ve got a headstart, so why not make the most of it? Secondly, make learning a priority. Listen to good [00:36:30] podcasts or audiobooks on your commute or while you exercise. Remember to take notes and draw diagrams and try things out, however you learn best. Very much in this space, I would recommend the Tim Ferriss Podcast. I’ve gotten so much out of that over the years. I’ll also plug the Alpha Geek Podcast, my podcast. You can go to alphageekpodcast.com.
In this space, I’d also recommend starting a journal. Make a habit of reflecting. When you’re learning new things, you’re always filtering for what’s useful and what you can use right now. You don’t necessarily have to take everything onboard [00:37:00] straight away or you don’t have to take everything onboard verbatim. You want to allow yourself to be challenged by the new information, but you don’t have to automatically subscribe. You can build your own coherent few that works for you.
Thirdly, you want to make your boss’ life easier and make them look good. In doing that, you’re going to take problems away and you’ll start to get more recognition. You’ll also start to learn more about what the business is trying to achieve. You can align your arguments with the strategy of the business and with the higher intentions there boosting [00:37:30] your credibility.
If you want to know any more about this, there’s more available online at atrans.co/ux, if you’re interested in seeing the slides again or resources mentioned in the talk or more about the six super powers. Before I go, I just want to say as we can see now, leadership is really a state of mind. If you’re not doing it, start. If you are doing it, do it more. It just makes the wheels turn more smoothly in organisations and it makes everyone’s lives less frustrating, more productive [00:38:00] and more fun.
As I often say at the end of the podcast, until next time. Think big, start small. Enjoy the journey and never stop learning.