This is an essay written quite some time ago by Dr Richard Farson. The timelessness of Dr. Farson's message struck me as I was rereading it today so here's an introductory snippet to encourage you to go read it in full:
Design is one of the few professions dominated by its clientele. Compared to physicians, attorneys, and academics, designers are inclined to do what they're told. That posture is so widely accepted among designers it sometimes seems that the only ones who can occasionally insist on having things their way are the superstars of design.
That is such an old story among designers that perhaps it is small wonder that designers tend not see themselves as leaders. If they have learned not to expect their professional judgements to sway clients or employers, how can they imagine leading corporations or communities, to say nothing of exercising leadership in the developing global arena? It is simply impossible for most designers to think of themselves as having a place in high councils of decision making.
But that is where designers are most needed - at the top. It is a travesty that the only professionals close to the CEO's are lawyers and accountants. Designers have more to offer, because increasingly our organizations need to be design driven, not just market driven. To truly prosper, our global society must have its needs met, not just its wants.
Here's the full article "Designers as Leaders" - Also worth reading is "Management by Design" where we get these few lines,
But if design is everything, how can it be something special, focused, and usable for leaders? To clarify this we need one more definition: Design is the creation of form. [...]
But why is form so important? The short answer: In human affairs, form rules. For example, form always wins over content. How you say something dominates what you say. A written message carries more weight than a spoken one, a printed one weightier than one that is typed, which is weightier than one handwritten, even though all the words may be identical. These are metamessages, sent by the form of the message, and they are powerful.
Niti Bhan focuses on offering strategic insight for growth opportunities and revenue generation in the rapidly evolving interstitial space between design and business. Her 15 years of experience include employers such McCann Erickson Worldwide, Hewlett Packard India, The Second City and most recently, the Institute of Design. She is an engineer and an MBA whose most significant achievement in the field of design has been dropping out of two graduate design programs on two continents in two centuries - the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad and the Institute of Design, Chicago. Her areas of interest are business intelligence and trends, business strategy as well as creating a compelling user case for design as force for increasing value.