Last night’s Cambridge Usability Group talk on UX Leadership was presented by Lily Dart, a freelance user experience designer and user researcher based in London. Below are my notes:

User experience is a team sport

Many aspects, job roles and decisions go into a user experience:

  • Front-end developers
  • Back-end developers
  • Designers
  • Product managers
  • QA’s
  • Customer services
  • and many more…

“Too many people view management as leadership. It’s not. Leadership comes from influence, and influence can come from anyone at any level and in any role.”

There is no hierarchy in leadership.


Empathy in leadership is important, when there is no empathy there is lack of commitment. Consider colleague needs as you would user needs.

Direction and focus

A good leader sets direction and focus, they communicate goals not details and explain why goals are important. When there is no direction and focus you get conflict as everyones’ personal opinions seem equally valid on the surface level.

Teams work best together when they have a clear vision that everyone can work towards

Set goals for your work and define metrics to measure success. Issues often occur as team members have a different idea of what ‘good’ looks like.


A good leader facilitates collaboration, when there is no collaboration you get a blame culture. Good collaboration means communicating in a way that everyone understands.

When you admit mistakes, colleagues seeing you’re capable of telling the truth.

Helping your team to work towards the same goal isn’t about writing more documentation.

Instead of pre-empting and correcting mistakes in advance, let people mess up to create autonomy and a sense of purpose.

Recommended reading

Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness by Frederic Laloux

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick M. Lencioni