Coming soon!

Design Leadership Playbook

A book to learn about the leadership skills they never taught you in Design School

All Design Leaders I know tell the same story: you’re super excited with the new role, but it’s overwhelming to realise how many things you don’t know. We all felt like we were missing a piece of the puzzle, but you don’t have to.

I hand over to you in this playbook the lessons, tricks, and skills you need to crush that seat at the table.

This is for you if...

You are a design leader

You are currently a Design Leader. Maybe you've been one for a while, or you've been recently promoted.

You want to be a design leader

You'd like to be a Design Leader in the future. You want to understand in detail how your role would change and what skills you’d need to succeed.

You feel like you're missing something

Your peers - other leaders - seem to know things you don't: from people management to metrics, those are things that no one taught you when you studied design!

You want to get a seat at the table

You want to get more influence on your organization, but find that there's a gap on the way of thinking and doing between you and your "business" managers. 

My no-BS letter to you:
What I wish someone told me

The jump from Designer to Leader is a tough one because our role becomes quite detached from the craft. The tasks and tools you now need to focus on are entirely different. 

Feeling overwhelmed is completely natural. You were great designing, which is why you got promoted. But now the role is so different that you don’t feel like you’re that great anymore. 

Let me tell you something: you are. It’s just that no one taught you this before. 

You’ve got 3 choices now: 

  • You can go back to design and leave this admin stuff behind. You wouldn’t be the first nor the last. We’re wrong to believe that leading a team is always the next step in the career ladder. It’s not. Really, it isn’t. Not everyone has to like the business side.
  • You can learn by trial and error. Nothing wrong with that, we all do it. We try something, see if it works or it doesn’t, then continue from there. It takes time, though. And it can be quite frustrating. 
  • You can join me on this playbook. This will be like an MBA for designers. All the other managers in the company have had this kind of training, but this just isn’t part of any Design School. 

Look, I'm going to be fully honest here. I put this together thinking of the younger me. I’ve done it thinking of the times I thought “my goodness, couldn’t someone just told me this?”. Things could have been so much easier. I wouldn’t had to spend soooo much time figuring things out that others before me already did!

Not only that, but during the time I was going through my trial and error figuring things out, my rockiness had an impact on my team. And even the company. Things just simply didn’t go as smoothly as they could have. Instead of helping my team more, much of my time was spent getting the hang of my new tasks. 

I have no doubt that, in due time, you can learn it all the hard way by trial and error. But why not hack the process a bit and let me hand over all these lessons to you? 

What you'll learn

Leading people

From hiring to 1-1s, resolving conflicts, and performance management. Learn everything you need to know to keep the team happy, engaged, and delivering the best work of their careers.

Design Ops

Learn how to provide an efficient environment for your team with communication alignment, as well as standardized tools, processes, licenses, and workflows.

Managing projects

Project Management essentials to lead any project and get things done. Learn how to get the best out of your team, while delivering on time.

Managing the sit at the table

Switching your mindset from pixels to high level company strategy is the goal. Learn how to communicate with your peers, superiors, and clients to drive change.

Gaining influence

Get to know the power of influence and how to smoothly advocate for your team and for yourself inside and outside your organization. Learn practical tips that you can start applying today.

Admin superpowers

Learn the essentials of finance, legal, marketing, sales, and support so you can tackle anything that comes your way. Includes a metrics module to track and improve systematically!

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About me

Sara Vilas

I'm currently researching remote leadership in the Location Independence Institute, taking remote Design Lead gigs through Toptal, gathering advice from developers to designers at, writing a book about Design Leadership, and wrapping up an MBA. Previously helped over 100 corporations all around the globe become digital and user-friendly.