Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

How do leaders deal with change?

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Change is one of the inevitable aspects of business, and life in general. Some people find it difficult to deal with change, and their attitude towards it limits their growth. Others embrace change and deal with it in positive ways.

Leaders have to deal with change personally and also help their people stay positive. Here are three simple, yet powerful ways leaders deal with change effectively:

Be flexible: Don’t get set in your ways. Know ahead of time that things are going to change, and when they do, embrace and move forward. If you’re rigid and inflexible, changes will still come and they will be painful.

Be accountable: When situations change, take charge. Take responsibility for what is happening and work to help others deal with the changes. Lead out in facing the moment and dealing with it head-on. Others will follow and they will appreciate you for your efforts.

Look to the future: Your attitude towards change will determine how it influences you. If you worry and fret about what is happening, it will have a negative affect. If you look for the positives in the situation, and move forward with confidence, everything that changes in your life will have a positive outcome, and your attitude will help others.

Years ago I had received a promotion to a new position—product manager—that I had been working on for more than a year. For the next nine months I worked eagerly to learn what I needed to do to succeed in the role, and I put those things into practice. My manager gave me high reviews and things were looking up. Then the unexpected happened…the company downsized and I was out of a job.

It was difficult at first, but I immediately set my sights on a young company that was starting to get a lot of attention in the industry. They had an opening for the position I wanted. I did my homework, got advice from mentors, researched the company, and prepared myself in every way I could imagine for the interviews. It took a while to get through the process (I later found out that more than 100 people had applied for the job), but I got the job. It was the perfect job for me at that point in my career. This change opened up new opportunities for me to grow as a leader. I never would have pursued it without the unexpected change.

When changes occur, don’t shy away or act like they didn’t happen. Face them head-on, look to the future, and make the best of the situation. Then look for ways to move forward and help others deal with them in a positive way.


The Product Management Perspective: Product managers deal with change in many ways. Changes in the market can be the most difficult to detect and deal with, and yet these are among the most important for product success. Set aside time to do market research to make sure you know what’s going on in the market your product serves. Set aside time for customer visits, learn what’s important to them and make sensible decisions based on what you find.

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2 thoughts on “How do leaders deal with change?

  1. Interesting trio of attributes Michael, one of my own if I may…

    Worry about what you can influence, not what you can’t.

    Half the problem with change is that we feel completely powerless and out of control.

    So helping people focus on what they can influence can help them get over their emotional responses sooner

    James

    • Nice addition James. Focusing on what you can influence is key to being effective in all other aspects. Thanks,

      -Michael

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