The Seats Throughout My Career
You don’t have to be someone’s manager or boss to be a leader but it is often associated with that. I strongly believe and have always naturally felt like passion is what makes you more naturally inclined to lead something or lead people in which they are happy to help you achieve your shared goals. Now, passion isn’t what makes you a good or great leader, but I do find it helps you step into those shoes more easily when you are passionate about whatever it is your trying to lead. Your values as a leader and how you lead others is what makes you a leader that everyone is itching to follow.
Through these collective experiences and people I’ve met along the way, has shaped my values as a person and a leader. That with a growth mindset it allows you to empathize with others and learn from them, as well as leverage the strengths of the people around you to create processes that unlock the full potential of your team.
Leading Volunteer Activities and Employee Resource Groups
I started my career often gravitating towards areas I was passionate about and that happened to be a lot of helping with campus employee events, volunteering as a University Recruiting Ambassador, and eventually leading much of these same activities. I was a co-founder of our local New Hire Network / Early in Career Network employee resource organization, I eventually took on as co-lead for one of the biggest community service activities we did at the Richardson campus, and even many team learning and fun events.
Doing all these things were a passion and loved doing them and ultimately gave me an opportunity to do this full time and grow myself in a completely different and unique way.
Leading in Role as an Individual Contributor
Whether I was a intern, software engineer, UI designer, HR Site Leader, Business Engagement Manager, or Lead UX designer, I was still always leading from where I sat.
As an intern, I was one of the first interns for Linksys and was there for two summers. As new interns arrived, I was asked to mentor them and help them navigate joining their teams.
As a software engineer, I remember leading 7 interns over the summer and was asked to actually give them their assignments, review their work, teach them, and ultimately manage everything they did that summer. That was probably the moment I knew I wanted to be a people manager verse pursuing a individual contributor career path. I also was a scrum master for a year or so helping the team navigate agile (well at that time it was a hybrid version of it). Teaching the team planning poker, running standup meetings, and ensuring everything was in Rally. This was also when I first got a taste of what it was like to be a UI designer and began leading and coaching the team on UX and the importance of user research.
As HR Site Manager, while this was a passion role for me, I think this was the most out of my comfort zone I have felt, but also still in stride. I think this grew me the most as an individual and as a leader. There’s nothing like leading volunteers, you’re never the main priority (and you shouldn’t be), and if you make things hard or confusing it’s easy for them to walk away, What worked the most for me, was if I was passionate, I found the people that were also passionate. If I provided the right clarity and what’s expected of them, they showed up and put their best foot forward. Their experience as a volunteer, including the recognition was also incredibly important. I empathized having been an volunteer in the past and it’s what I used to design my approach to getting the most out of the volunteers while helping them get the most out of what they wanted out of their experience.
As lead UX designer, this is really where I learned and grew the most as a leader. This is where I had learn to go from a team of 1 to a team of designers. Where I was doing everyone and not thinking about process or delegation, just about putting everything into doing things the best I could, in the most efficient way that worked for me. Then going to helping hire and onboard new designers, when I had to think about how we worked together, how I mentored them, how I delegated work, etc. With everything, there were definitely challenges and growing pains but it was just another problem to solve. I learned to work my leader and talk through how do I solve some of these challenges when there were two of us and then eventually 3 of us. Process was the answer for us, we moved the team to Agile where the new team rituals were important. From daily standups to design reviews, to weekly 1:1s, and tracking our work so we knew what each other were working on.
Leading a Team as a People Leader
Every seat I’ve been in calls for a different leadership approach, and sitting in the new seat as a leader of a team was no different. Have there been challenges, absolutely. Has it been frustrating at times, definitely but if you take a step back. Pause for a bit, this is really just another problem to solve. Just like any problem, I viewed it as just another design challenge and I know those steps like the back of my hand. I first dive in, with curiosity, and learn as much as I can about the symptoms. Once I can understand the problem space through “research”, I define the problem I’m looking to solve. From there, I ideate some solutions before going ahead and trying out some of those ideas. Giving each a go and seeing what works and what does so I can adjust as I go.

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