The Importance of Kindness and Alignment in Building Exceptional Teams
I'm doing my best to get back into blogging more frequently, so bear with me if there's a mix in quality in the upcoming posts. I'm trying to approach this more like a diary than a newspaper. The reason I'm writing is to improve my writing skills, but more importantly, to become better at formulating my thoughts and ideas. As you may know, I believe that this is the skill every designer should focus on more.
During coaching calls, it’s a recurring question actually. Designers want to write more but are not sure how to get started. My response? Just write. But in all fairness, there is one more thing that I feel is just as important, which is the opposite; reading. Just like we should listen more than we talk, we should read more than we write. Once you get into the habit, you’ll notice that they very much go hand in hand. The more I read, the easier I find writing. The more I write, the more joy I find in reading.
The other day, I was reading Lizzie Davey’s newsletter, and something struck a chord with me. Lizzie offered seemingly simple yet straightforward advice on what the "secret" to freelancing success is.
Do good work and be a nice person.
Clients hire me because I'm a nice person and treat them like a human. They stick with me because the work I do is good. - Lizzie Davey
Having run my own business for 14 years now, I agree with her, and it's something I've always tried to stick to. However, I think one part that's missing from this is that, just like reading and writing, they feed into one another. Having worked with nearly a hundred teams over the years, including my agency days, I've noticed a pattern. It's impossible (for me at least) to produce exceptional work with a team whose values I'm unable to align with. During the last few years, I've been lucky to find myself in more and more teams that I think were extraordinary, and I think it's because I'm more aware of what I need. I'm attracted to teams like this.
Teams that are kind, respectful, and professional are what I'm always on the lookout for. You'll need a great team to produce great work, and over time, great work will nurture a great team into an exceptional one.