Growing as a Designer and Leader

As a professional designer, it’s important to push ourselves daily to be the best that we can in order to create outstanding work. To be successful in our industry, we must continually grow and try new things that will enhance our design skills, and just as important, our leadership abilities. There are tons of ideas on the internet on how to become a better designer through Photoshop tutorials, HTML best practices, and new jQuery techniques. There aren’t as many about becoming a better leader in the design community, although it’s an important trait to have as a professional and a necessary skill to possess in our competitive industry.

Become a better leader

Leaders in every industry are considered trusted sources and experts in the field, which is a coveted spot for anyone and a great position to be in. Promote yourself as an expert and a leader in your community through different leadership positions and organizational roles. People will recognize your ability to lead and think of you when they need your services. Teaching others is also a great way to show your design knowledge and helps to further your own skills at the same time.

Leadership can also be a fulfilling experience, and is not solely about showing off and promoting yourself. Helping others learn a new skill or achieve something they couldn’t before, is a great feeling. It’s also fun to network with other professionals and connect people for the greater good of the community.

Push yourself

We’re taught to learn a skill and then use those skills to perform in our everyday profession. As a designer though, we must continually build our knowledge and never be satisfied with where we’re at currently. It’s important to be your own coach; push yourself and be persistent in your path for greatness. Keep looking for ways to motivate yourself so you don’t burn out or become tired. Finding rewarding and unique ways to get involved while promoting yourself is a great way to build skills and do something different from your everyday work.

Further the education of others

Strengthening your design and leadership skills is also about giving back and helping others, and sometimes this is the greatest way to learn more yourself. Remember, these ideas aren’t necessarily a means of making loads of money, they are about getting out there and meeting people in order to promote yourself.

Host a workshop

The workshop can be on learning Photoshop, basic HTML skills, or anything you feel qualified to teach. This gives you a chance to show off your designer knowledge to your local community but also gives you the opportunity to give back by teaching others and helping them further their skills. Knowledge is power, and it’s always fun to see others discover new things. Plus, they may discover that this particular skill is tougher than they thought and they just want to hire an expert (you!) to complete these tasks for them in the future!

Write a book

Getting published involves a lot of hard work, so don’t take this on and think it’ll be the easy idea on the list! But the results are rewarding, seeing your name in print and happy reviews from people that have read it, would be well worth all the work. Plus, it’s a really great opportunity to dig deeper on a subject that you know a lot about, since there’s always more you can learn.

Be a speaker at a conference

There are tons of local, regional and national conferences that go on every year with many quality speakers on a variety of topics. Make a list of what you would like to talk about and then look into different conferences to see what’s out there. Then connect with a contact person for the conference of your choice to see if you can get on the speaking list.

Help out the design department of a local college

Colleges and universities are always in need of help and inspiration from those in the field. Volunteer to come in to speak one day, run a workshop for them, or work on a project together. It would be a great way to connect with past professors or find new talent if you need to outsource some of your work.

Connect with people

Networking is a great way to spread the word about your services. In large cities and small towns you’ll find business people getting together to promote their businesses and learn from one another. There are tons of ways to connect with people, but it’s always a great way to find new business and learn something new.

Start a networking group

In a small or large community, this is a great way to connect with local business people that might not know about your design services. Many small businesses need affordable design work but aren’t sure where to look. Starting your own group is a great way to promote your services and be the star of the networking group because you’re the leader.

Create a collaborative design group

Getting together other designers is a great way to expand your ideas and come up with better and more creative work. A collaborative group can get together to share ideas, resources or work together on projects. It’s your group, and you can do as much as you see fit with it!

Become a mentor

Helping someone else get to the place you’re at takes some work, but is one of the more rewarding ideas on the list. Seeing someone achieve success with your help is a great feeling and knowing that you had a hand in their accomplishments is fulfilling.

Start a blog community

Community blogs are a great source of inspiration and knowledge for everyone in the design community from newbies to veterans. Starting your own blog community gives you the opportunity to connect with the design community in a big way. You’ll be the main person running the show so you can do anything you like your own way.

Growth is never easy but very rewarding and worth the effort. Try some different ideas and find things that will work for you in your online or local community. It’s important to keep growing in order to be the best at your job and keep providing quality work through the years. What ideas do you have to become a better leader and designer? Have you tried some of the ideas listed here?


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