You shouldn’t hit people in the head with hammers. This might seem counterintuitive, but it’s an important truth. I had a project manager on a brutal project (pressure, ambiguity, futility). He tried to wrangle the project into shape by metaphorically hitting people in the head with a hammer. Which got him fired. So he literally hit someone in the head with a hammer. Which got him arrested. He’s still in prison. None of which helped the project.

This is an extreme example, but I see the core impulse frequently with designers new to leadership. In 1x1s I get asked variations of “How do I make people agree with me?” Of course, the answer is that it’s the wrong question. Being a design leader doesn’t mean always being right. The advice I always give is to stop and ask yourself what the other person wants. Just as we build empathy for users, leaders build empathy for their colleagues. Put the hammer down. Take a breath. Pick up a pen. If you can’t set your ego aside, you’re best off staying principal track.