Most of the best CEOs and executives in the world don’t have an education in business administration; instead, they have other skills that are more vital toward being good leaders. Look at Steve Jobs, for example, who was known for his innovation and leadership skills. He transformed the world of mobile phones and his company continues to lead the market even after his death. 

A degree in design can teach a lot of essential skills to people in top executive positions. Creativity, innovation, and curiosity are only a few that all designers learn in their careers. Another less obvious benefit is to have a full understanding of the clients and what they want. 

Steve Jobs said, “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology—not the other way around.” A company has to know what the client wants, and this venture starts with the person leading it. With all that said, these are the skills an executive can learn from a design degree or course

Innovation Is Key

Image source: Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay

In the world that we are living in today, new technologies are emerging from all angles, so innovation is not only needed but expected. Many top executives nowadays didn’t learn about innovation in their degrees, especially if they pursued higher education in a business or management-related major. Also, because they are taught to be number-focused, they sometimes miss out on the benefits of emphasizing more on innovation. 

However, the fact of the matter is clients are hungry for constant innovation from their favorite brand, and more often than not, they stop consuming a certain product because of the lack of innovation. This is where a degree in design comes to the rescue—design courses are created with innovation in mind. 

For designers, innovation is crucial to make their work stand out from others. This type of creativity is what an executive needs to lead a team into producing something that will revolutionize the market.    

Attention to Detail

Image source: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Many times executives aren’t necessarily involved during the process of making a product. In fact, many of them lose touch with their team and only check in to see the finished prototype. But, if they lack observation skills, they will probably miss some details in the product. 

One of the most critical skills that people learn in a design course is attention to detail. A great leader with excellent observational skills can observe and analyze everyday things. This skill will not only help a leader to see the details that other people might have missed but to dissect any problems in a short amount of time.  

It can also come in handy when analyzing people; an executive can better understand their team and assign tasks that are better suited for each person. Overall, attention to details can help when looking to build a product, manage a team, tackle a problem, and figure out the best way forward.

Fostering Collaboration

Image source: mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Another skill a degree in design can teach you is how to work in collaboration with others. Many times designers work in teams, and if not, they at least have to work with a client. So all design courses include teamwork as a crucial skill. Executives and managers sometimes lose touch with the team they manage and aren’t open to others’ opinions.

Instead, by leading through examples and accepting collaboration, they will create an environment that is open to new ideas. Collaboration not only makes a friendlier office space, but also happy workers with a high level of productivity. Also, employees who feel that their opinions are appreciated will thrive in a workplace environment, which essentially is an invaluable boost to a company’s operations. 


Image source: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Curious people are driven to learn about everything around them; they are interested to know the ins and outs of everything. Curiosity produces a constant learning state that leaders must have in order to be successful. With even the slightest curiosity, managers can strive to find new knowledge and teach their underlings to produce better results. 

All good designers share this common trait. While not all design courses teach this skill, it is one of those innate abilities that designers need to have to produce work that satisfies the clients. Designers generally care about what people like and want to be able to give it to them. Executives with this trait will be a better leader and create better products. 

In Summary

An executive needs a degree in design to learn vital skills like innovation, creativity, attention to detail, collaboration, and curiosity. It will help them lead the team better and generate an environment that will create revolutionary products. Overall, these skills will only benefit a leader by increasing productivity, which is one of the main goals for any executive.

Artur Meyster

Artur Meyster is the CTO of Career Karma (YC W19), an online marketplace that matches career switchers with coding bootcamps. He is also the host of the Breaking Into Startups podcast, which features people with non-traditional backgrounds who broke into tech.


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