The effective urban designers I know possess a selfless attitude and generosity of spirit. The urban design achievement is never about them. In fact, quite the opposite. They also possess several key characteristics that, I believe, helps make them successful.
They listen to all stakeholders
They will carefully listen to all stakeholders without preconceptions about the solution, and will strive to deeply understand context, and more deeply understand what is behind context, toward a shared discovery of local systems and meaning.
They lead from the front, and from behind
They will orchestrate success by leading from the front and from behind when the moment requires. They will enjoy, and in fact celebrate, others who require profile while quietly being satisfied when the right urban design ideas take form.
Additionally, they will demonstrate discipline and rigour in leading processes that require creative iteration toward shared ownership in the declaration of plans to be implemented.
They communicate effectively
An effective urban designer is a teacher, who will inspire by sharing ideas and precedents in a way that makes them relevant in the moment. They must be able to communicate through effective drawing and writing, visualize the ideas of others that may not initially feel appropriate for the place, technically converse with all of the design disciplines, and be knowledgable enough to sift the good ideas out of the bad.
Effective urban designers are political creatures with self-awareness, and awareness of the interests of others who are participating in design processes. They will recognize the look of shared success while honourably shaping outcomes reflective of best practice.
Furthermore, they are not bound by the moment or fashion. They can appreciate the strategic importance of immediate initiative, while also steering transformation requiring longer timelines to realize.
They're comfortable with the unknown
The effective urban designer is comfortable with the unknown, sees a change in direction as a design opportunity, is always proactive and will take the necessary time to develop their craft. The effective urban designer never stops practicing.