Future of Design Forum

FODF: Unlocking the Leadership Mind


The Future of Design Forum is founded by TDA Creative, a gathering of design leaders providing a safe environment for people to encourage, support and motivate one another in the industry. This months forum focused on the strategies and behaviours need to evolve and unlock your potential as a design leader. 

Watch the Forum in full below:

The hosts

The host of the program was the talented Head of Design of recruitment at TDA Creative, John Hunter collaborated alongside Andrew La Monica, an awarding winning design leader who has gained over 20+ years of experience in solving diverse complex business hurdles and helped to build design leadership at GE as well as the Olympics, Google, Target and more. His work has been recognised in news publications such as CNBC and Wall Street Journal. In addition, he is a licensed Executive coach and specialises in organisational performance and development. Also, he is a seasoned keynote speaker at The New York University Stern School of Business and Harvard Business School. 

Andrew is joined by two special guests, Venessa Bennett, a design leader who is an advocate for utilising design thinking principles to create viable solutions for businesses. She has worked for various companies from international global corporations to small startups such as Rightmove and Vodafone. Currently, she is the Head of UX at Kazoo. 

Lastly, William Barraclough is a design leader with over 20 years of experience passionate about developing teams and creating products that help consumers and see exponential growth in businesses such as Red Ventures, Zoopla and Tide. He is now a leading Global Product Design at William Hill in the United Kingdom. 

About the session

The presenter, Andrew opened up the conversation about the four challenges of leadership in the design business. 

  1. Limiting Beliefs
  2. Confidence 
  3. A** **** boss 
  4. False Narratives

These four key points are essential for leaders in the industry because it offers a perspective on human behaviour, and how to support each other and present yourself in the workplace. He highlighted, “most things are not design problems, there are people problems”. 

Then, he sailed into the first point, limiting beliefs. Andrew gave a striking definition that limiting beliefs refers to “a state of mind or belief about yourself that restricts you in some way.” This means people can have limiting beliefs due to a defence mechanism that protects a person from their traumatic childhood. Without admitting the pain you have experienced and receiving the professional help you require through therapy, the challenge will grow into a bigger problem. 

For example, John mentioned, “70% of people in leadership positions have experience imposter syndrome”. What does this look like? Speaking to yourself or allowing the voice in your head to convince you, you should have a new job by now or you should be further in your career right now. Andrew explained, the word “should” is a word of limiting belief. 

Therefore, it is imperative to change your mindset with a positive outlook on the circumstances such as ‘I’m not ready for the promotion yet’, it is a demonstration of a progressive mindset by replacing negative thoughts with positive beliefs. Vanessa shared a practical tool which is to gather evidence. Her previous manager gave an insight every time you see something about you on social media or word of mouth where someone has praised you, take a screenshot and place it in your folder so you can remind yourself of who you are and why you have been chosen to work in the company. William added, “to be kind to yourself, be good to others around you and come out of your comfort zone”. 

Secondly, confidence according to Andrew is “trusting yourself and having faith in your abilities”. Having self-acceptance is the result of becoming confident in the outward appearance. It’s the moment to impose a question as a leader what areas do I have control over? The first initial step is to appreciate your small wins. For example, taking out time in your busy schedule to exercise for the day. 

On the other hand, some employees identifies perfectionist, every project giving to them ought to be 100% perfect before presenting the final product to their leaders. But leaders are permit to set expectations with their team to produce a minimum of effort of 75% to avoid setting unrealistic deadlines, but mold the team with passion, growth and patience to enjoy their work. John states “pretend to be confident until you become one because a lack of confidence can be infectious”. Whereas, Vessena said, “surround yourself with people that supports you”. This is key because a motivating team helps you to boost your confidence and thrive in every aspect of your life by their words of encouragement. With this impact, always ensure you stop being self-critical about your abaility. As we go back to the original point, trust in your craft. 

Thirdly, an a** **** boss, colleague or stakeholders is to reflect the way you respond to these types of authoritative personalities. Andrew gave an profound advice that “you can’t fix people but you can fix how you react to difficult people”. It is essential to recognise sometimes the person is not the problem; the problem can be directed to you. Ouch! Why could this be the case? Their words or behaviours spikes a trigger within you. Andrew analysed two types of people, narcissistic people who are self-centered which leads to their insecurities and passive aggressive people who enjoys being in control. The ultimate solution is to these types of personalities is empathy. Empathy is the power to not to take everything peronal instead step back and be kind. John added, “people have their bad days and dealing with issues at home”. Furthermore, William highlighted, “set boundaries and understand what your needs are”. 

Finally, the final point of the conversation was false narratives. The definition of false narratives is “the story we tell ourselves incomplete or inaccurate information, but your mind is trying to find meaning or make sense so it makes up the story that is not true”, quoted by Andrew. To eliminate the negative connotation with your words such as “I hate my job” or “I can’t do it”. Venessa suggested creating goals to achieve your full potential. Collaborating with people will help to examine UX problem together and find resolutions. 

In summary, these human behaviourial challenges are not targeted to a specific group of people, everyone will face these challenges. For this reason, it is crucial to identify if you are responding from a place of hurt or empathy. It is wise to seek therapy to be self-aware and discern patterns in a healthy enviornment. Always be kind to people because you never know what people are going through and the person you see in the mirror is facing daily. 

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