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Leading a Team to Boosted Performance

Whether you’re a creative leader in an in-house environment or at a design firm, or are just interested in moving into a leadership role in the future, today’s sessions at HOW Design Live were chock full of amazing, actionable advice to help you with leading a team toward boosted performance.

How to Lead a Team to Success

Start with Yourself

Most people would agree it’s quite difficult to effectively lead a team of people when you’re not taking a close look at your own habits. Today at HOW Design Live, award-winning executive creative director and global brand strategist Ande Lamonica, who speaks frequently about the intersection of design, business and leadership, addressed just that.

Lamonica’s insights for accelerating your development as a creative leader are rooted in scientific research, behavioral psychology, his first-hand experience with global executives, and more than two decades of putting these things into practice to see what works and what doesn’t. Here are just five of his best strategies shared today:

1. Design your day for success by doing what you can to process anxiety so that you can lead at your best.

2. Know what your skill gaps are and how to fill them.

3. Influence other leaders by learning how to identify the leader in a room and knowing how to show them what’s in it for them.

4. Leverage your connections by getting people involved in the things you care about because people will support things that they are involved in.

5. And lastly, make your team a safe place for providing feedback. After all, as Lamonica points out, lack of feedback leads to poor direction, which causes underperformance.

Amy Schwartz, who specializes in branding and digital experiences as creative director at Bright Bright Great and previously was the design director at Cards Against Humanity and Blackbox, spoke at HOW Design Live about how we can become the mentors we wish we had.

Perhaps the most significant takeaways from Schwartz’s session had to do with the fact that design is an ethical concern, and strong design leaders are needed now more than ever.

The challenge, Schwartz says, is that many designers don’t necessarily have the structure to become the strong leaders they want to be, and so they’re making it up as they go. This leaves more room for things to go wrong.

So what do we do? Some of Schwartz’s suggestions include having conversations as an industry that go deeper than deliverables, tools and craft; always considering the impact of your micro-actions; and always asking yourself whether what you plan to say or do has other people’s best interests in mind as well. This will increase collaboration and trust all around, and allow you to mentor and lead your team in the strongest way possible.

Be Strategic about Team Time

One of the best ways to set your team up for success is to be strategic about those times when you and your team come together, something we learned today from Daniel Pink, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of several books including When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Times. Pink wowed HOW Design Live attendees with an engaging talk about the scientific secrets of perfect timing, and the applications to team leadership are incredible.

Pink knows that most of us believe that timing is an art, when in fact, it is a science. He discussed a number of studies that have revealed the hidden pattern within our day that profoundly affects our mood and performance. Most people have a more positive mood in the morning hours, which then peaks, dips in the afternoon, and rises again in the evening hours.

He shared three key takeaways from these findings:

1. Our cognitive abilities do not remain static over the course of the day.

2. These daily fluctuations are more extreme than we realize.

3. The best time to perform a task depends on the nature of the task.

Why is is important for creative leaders to take this science of timing into consideration? Aside from starting with yourself and designing your own day in a more intentional way (i.e., moving analytic tasks to the peak, administrative tasks to the dip, and insight tasks to the recovery part of your day), knowing these things can help you strategically set your team up for the highest level of success possible.

For example, if afternoon meetings are likely to be more negative, more irritable and less productive than morning meetings for most individuals, then perhaps availability should not be the only factor taken into consideration when setting a meeting time, Pink suggests. Perhaps time of day and the nature of the meeting should be taken into consideration first and foremost. Or, if you find that most of your team members do not fall into the majority when it comes to personal daily patterns, and that they’re wired to experience a peak later in the day than most people, then you can design group activities around that to boost performance.

It’s easy to overlook or ignore the importance of timing, especially in our increasingly busy lives when it’s hard enough just to find a time that works for everyone, but truly taking it into consideration for yourself and your team can make all the difference and put your team on the path to boosted performance and lasting success.

This article originally appeared on How Design.

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