There are great leaders and terrible ones. There are leaders that are great for one person and terrible for another.
Some people require a lot of coaching and positive reinforcement to feel fulfilled. Hands on leaders are great for those folks. Hands off leaders make them feel siloed.
Others prefer to be given their assignments and then left alone to accomplish them. Hands on leaders make those workers feel suffocated. Hands off leaders make them feel like they’re being trusted to do their jobs.
Then there are the amazing leaders. The ones who identify employee personality and work traits quickly and adapt their management style to meet employee needs, and support their professional growth.
You can’t lead a team of people in one concrete unbending way, unless you want to wind up with a set of clones. You need a team of people who think and work in a variety of different ways to make the best possible products. In the design industry this is especially important because lack of diversity often leads to products that only cater to a subset of what could otherwise be your core audience.
I’ve been fortunate enough to work for a series of amazing leaders in my life, including my current VP.
Another trait of amazing leaders is being able to identify areas of employee growth. If you want to keep employees long term you need leadership that will both support professional growth and recognize when employees are ready to move on to the next level.
Some employees prefer not to move on to next levels, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that either. I’ve been given several opportunities to move into management roles during my career, and they just weren’t the right fit at the time. Does that mean I’ll never want to manage a team for the rest of my life? Not necessarily. Team members grow and evolve and life circumstances change. Very few people remain static in their professional skillsets and career goals for an entire lifetime.
Amazing leaders are tuned in and recognize growth and tap into it for the betterment of the company. And when opportunities just aren’t available internally for the level of growth a team member has reached, those amazing leaders are supportive of those team members exploring other opportunities.
If you’ve ever left a job and had your manager tell you you’d regret it, then leaving was the best decision of your professional career. Sometimes people who make that comment mean well, or feel they’d do a better job helping you through your career if you stayed, but that controlling “only I can help you” mentality will handicap your growth long term.
Even if the company you move into doesn’t turn out to be a great fit, going with your gut and exploring the opportunity was the right call. When it comes to your career, you’re in control. Don’t let others dictate the direction your path should take.