Most technology companies are comprised of people and teams that discover, define, design, develop and deliver products to the market. Within these companies the role product managers play has become increasingly important to the success of the products and the companies; it has become increasingly strategic.
One aspect of the role of product management that makes it both enjoyable and difficult is the fact that, in most companies, the people on whom product managers depend to successfully release products do not report to them. Product managers have to act as the catalyst to drive unity and direction on the team without having management authority over the people (from other teams) they depend on for their success. This situation requires product managers to be leaders.
The following quotes by great leaders — while not written specifically about product managers — shed more light on the leadership role of product management:
”Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.” - General Colin Powell
“A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit.” - John Maxwell
”All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common; it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people…. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership.” - John Kenneth Galbraith
”A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.” - John Le Care
“Control is not leadership; management is not leadership; leadership is leadership. If you seek to lead, invest at least 50% of your time in leading yourself—your own purpose, ethics, principles, motivation, conduct. Invest at least 20% leading those with authority over you and 15% leading your peers.” - Dee Hock
Not all product managers will be leaders; they do not all need to be leaders. However, to increase their likelihood for success (with both products and careers), product managers will work diligently to become leaders in their organizations. For more information about this topic check out my recent article and blog post.