We have all had at least one manager in our past that we have had some fairly off putting moments with. Sure, we all have bad days. But as creative leaders, we need to approach our best and worst days with equal measure. Be more like Humanists. This doesn't mean being more spiritual (unless that's your thing), this doesn't mean running around naked at burning man (unless that's your thing) and no it doesn't mean leading a hand holding sessions and braiding flowers into each others hair (unless of course, that's your thing). It simply means being more aware of your actions and the actions of others.
So here are a few things that I do to ensure I am taking a Humanist approach to managing a Design team.
1. I not only hand out tasks. I accomplish tasks with them. I have personally had many managers that have not worked in let's say Photoshop, in years. As a designer, there is nothing worse than receiving feedback from someone who doesn't design or create anything for that matter. Sure being an "ideas person" is being creative. But it doesn't hold a lot of weight with people that are working until 3am. So take the time to get back into the craft of design. Your design team will love you for it. Design is my passion and I will never give it up.
2. No more fear. Personally, I am done with the old idea of living in fear of your boss. The looming dark shadow peering from under the closed door. Done with it. The best manager and designer relationships are the ones that have respectful debate and contextual understanding. Take the time to get to know everyone on your team. I mean really get to know them. The better you understand any human being (their past, how they grew up, how they view the world, how they view art, how they view design, what movies or books they love…) the easier it will be to have healthy and fearless discussions about the design work in front of both of you.
3. Admit when your ideas suck. Face it. Just because you are leading a Design Team with years or decades of Design experience, it doesn’t mean that you are always going to be right. So do yourself a favour and always publicly admit when you are wrong and champion ideas that your team brings forward that are going to push a project to a better end. Part of your job is nurturing the careers of the people on your team. The only way they are going to accel is by being allowed to offer up ideas.
I have a feeling that this is going to be a document that I update every year. Please feel free to give me some feedback.