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5 Amazing Traits of a Highly Effective Designer

5 Amazing Traits of a Highly Effective Designer Blog Feature

August 13th, 2015 min read

5-amazing-traits-to-look-for-in-a-great-designer-employee-overallIf you’re like me you’ve probably wondered why some people are easy to work with and others just aren’t.

I’m sure you’ve worked at companies where the people are difficult to get along with. The miscommunication and misalignment rips the team apart and prevents it from reaching the greatest levels it can possibly achieve.

Trying to always expand my knowledge on why this seems to happen and why some team members are more fun than others, I recently came across a great book written by Stephen Covey called “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”

After reading his book, it inspired me to write this article, outlining traits I find truly important as a designer and an employee in general.

As Covey explained, not everyone can naturally have the habits needed to be a great success and unfortunately, those that don’t, are likely to fall victim to a steady decline in greatness. But fortunately, many of these habits can be learned over a series of conscious everyday activities.

Below are five great traits to look for in a great designer (or employee in general)  for your company to reach its greatest level of success.

1. Being Proactive:

Everybody has a choice in how they live their life. We’re in charge, and most importantly rulers of our destiny.

When designers are proactive and self-driven it accelerates the workflow and productivity of the company to new heights. Sadly, reactive people think the factors around the world and in their environments think that everything is happening to them. They will make comments like “There’s nothing that I can do.” or “That’s how I am,” instead of making an effort to overcome an obstacle.

Many designers and team members don’t realize that the company as a whole depends greatly on each and every single person within it to thrive.

By staying ahead of deadlines and going above and beyond to solve the challenges at hand a designer can help take a project and a company to the next level.

2. Keep the End-Goal in Mind

The greatest designers have clear visions for their projects in mind and align them with their end-goal. First comes the brainstorming. Second, you align your actions and skills to that vision. This process can be applied to everyday tasks too.

Nothing will happen if you don’t align your visions with a little imagination. In contrast being aware of these two great actions is essential and if you ignore these it’s the same as letting people and everything around you decide what you will be and what you will do.  

3. Prioritize: “Putting things First”

In order to maintain the discipline and focus needed to keep design tasks on track, great designers need to know what needs to be done first.

Tasks should be prioritized as either important or not important. Something like a project deadline, for example, is important. Other things like catching up with a team member, or scrolling on the internet, are not important.

Great designers also need to be able to act based on the goals of their project and with the good of the company in mind, rather than a desire or impulse. Everything they do should be done for the greater good of the company.

4. The Art of Listening:

Another great habit from Stephen Covey's book is listening, in which he goes on to say that we must seek to understand, then to be understood.


10% of our communication is represented by our words
30% is represented by our sounds
60% is represented by our body language


In order to understand, a great designer and employee in general one must learn to listen and put in the effort to meet and personally interact with each other and their clients. Striving to really understand the client's issues and problems will set the task up for success.

5. Possess “the 4 Elements”:

To be the most effective designer and employee in general, you need to create time to work on ourselves within what I like to call the 4 elements: the physical, spiritual, mental, and social element.

A person should strive to work on these 4 elements each and every day of their life. I’ll go further and break these 4 great elements down for you below.

     1. Physical Element:

One of the most important elements is your physical being. There should always be a commitment to your physical improvement. Exercising our body will enhance your capabilities to work more efficiently.

Some of the things to do is to eat nutritious foods that will aid to your physical being, along with getting a sufficient amount of rest and relaxation, and exercising on a consistent basis.

     2.  Spiritual Element:

The second element on the list is your spiritual self. This all relates back to core values. Ultimately this will resonate leadership qualities within a person. To bring out these qualities you can do some of the following like practice daily meditation or prayer, spend time outside, or read great literature, such as Covey’s book. 

    3.  Mental Element:

One of my favorite elements on the list for me personally is the mental element, which is the focus on our minds. Majority of people unfortunately never spend any time on this element at all. Rather they fill their mind with things like “The Jersey Shore” or “Honey Boo Boo”. I usually want to headbutt a wall after I hear that. Some of the things you can do to increase your mental element is to read great literature, or limit yourself to only an hour of tv a day.

Some things you can do to improve is by learning new design techniques or by diving deeper into programs that push your design skills even further. By enriching your mind in educational programs instead, this will center your focus more easily on tasks at your organization and keep your mind incredibly sharp.

     4.  Social & Emotional Element:

The last on my list is to create a strong social and emotional element. When I say a social and emotional element this means developing and building relationships between your fellow team members or even just people in general.

The ways you can build these last elements include seeking to understand people on a down to earth level, contributing to their success, and paying attention to the fifth trait before in this post, which is listening.

The Key Takeaway

I consciously try to live by all 6 of these traits in my day to day design life and personal life. Furthermore, I see that a ton of my fellow team members possess these traits, and hope that these will enlighten you within your company. I believe these are important traits you want to find within a company and if you find these traits, you should seriously consider aligning yourself and holding onto these people close as friends and business partners.



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