Hearing that we need to be more forceful in applying our methodology, UX best practices, and UI design approach is not something that I’ve become accustomed to over the past few years. However, I do see a slight shift that has led me to think more deeply about directive versus collaborative consulting styles and how they relate to user experience.
Most UX engagements—and indeed, most general consulting engagements—employ a mix of both directive and collaborative styles. Very rarely, in my experience in user experience, is an engagement entirely one or the other. Given the fact that UX consulting is as much about leadership as it is about design, it is becoming more and more critical that we understand how our leadership style affects our consulting abilities.
As UX professionals increasingly take more of a leadership role with their clients and customers, it is becoming critical that we better understand the concept of leadership. There are four main leadership styles:
- Focusing on tasks and concrete objectives
- Focusing on people and their needs and developing followers
- Taking a directive approach, in which the leader sets an organization’s direction and makes all decisions
- Taking a participatory approach, in which the leader shares decision making with others
- Taking an adaptive approach to leadership
This fifth, adaptive leadership style speaks strongly to me, because the quality of being adaptive is critical to being a consultant. Adaptive leadership uses context to determine which of the previously mentioned leadership styles is appropriate in a given situation.