Leadership has changed in today’s competitive marketplace. Paternalistic decision-making and bureaucratic red tape are things of the past. Millennial and Gen Z employees want leaders who empower them to make choices and overcome obstacles, while providing the training and mentoring necessary to achieve great things.
Like it or not, the leaders who excel in today’s workplace look nothing like the bosses of days of yore; they need to be nurturing, intuitive and empathetic to employee needs.
The best way to develop those skills is by learning and using design thinking.
Design thinking teaches us to engage with end users by listening to their needs, cultivating empathy and brainstorming related solutions. As a leader, these skills will help you connect with the next generation of employees, inspiring them to do more innovative work on behalf of your whole business.
Here are 5 things design thinking will teach you to do:
Put customers first – knowing profits will follow. One of the reasons design thinking has such a powerful business impact is that it teaches leaders to focus on meeting the needs of end users first, knowing profits will follow. That can be a tough lesson for bottom-line-focused business people. But once you learn the art of design thinking and see its impact, you’ll realize that focusing on the customer is the best way to maximize profit.
Drive more productive collaborations. A big part of design thinking is creating stronger and more creative collaborations. A leader who understands how design thinking works and why it adds value will assign company challenges to diverse groups of employees. Whether you are building an app, designing a new product or addressing a customer-service problem, tapping the collective knowledge of your best people propels innovation.
Listen up. A design-minded leader understands the value of letting others speak. They recognize that great ideas come from everywhere and that encouraging team autonomy and sharing will improve products and services. Design thinking can help transform a top-down corporate culture into an environment where everyone feels comfortable contributing.
Innovate and iterate. Design thinking provides you with a toolbox full of strategies to narrow down your ideas, test them rapidly at low cost and iterate using customer feedback. Forget months-long pilot projects; design thinking’s test and iterate approach can give you insights quickly.
Push your people to excel. In order to do their best work, employees need to be empowered. An effective boss will encourage employees to challenge assumptions and do things differently. Design thinking teaches leaders how to give that power to their people so that the entire company reaps rewards.
Want to breathe new life into a stale corporate culture? Read our post on Design Thinking for Big Business.
Learn how to enable innovation skill-building at scale here or download our free ebook Kickstart Innovation: A Guide for Organizations.