Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


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Why emotional intelligence is essential to leadership

What makes a good leader? Experience? Vision? Knowledge? These traits are all traditionally associated with effective managers. But nowadays, there’s another factor that is slowly gaining reputation in the workplace: Emotional Intelligence.

It’s been a big buzzword recently, but what does it actually mean? And how can we apply it to our organizations? Leadership among peers requires a certain emotional quotient. Being able to discriminate between employee’s feelings and label them appropriately is something that truly separates the mindset of a midlevel manager from that of a CEO. Continue reading


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3 Steps to Reach for Your Next Milestone

Guest post by Bob Pritchett, President/CEO of Faithlife Corporation

 Has anyone ever told you that you have permission to do something incredible? You can have the life you’ve always wanted. And, you can start right now.

If you’re ready to reach for your next milestone, follow these three simple steps to keep moving forward. Continue reading


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2021: What Will Your Legacy Be?

Guest post by Bill Jensen

The next five years are likely to be the most crucial in your entire career.

If I’m not careful in how I pose the question, when I ask leaders about their legacy, I might get canned retirement speech. “I want to leave this business prepared for the future and knowing that I made a difference.”

But as our conversation continues, the import of considering one’s legacy within just the next five years becomes clear. This is an era of transformative disruption.

What keeps many leaders awake is being Uber’d — experiencing massive disruptions in everything they do that seem to come out of nowhere – disruptions that can uproot entire businesses and industries before they’ve finished their morning cup of coffee. Continue reading


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What is your level of positivity?

“The most successful companies and businesses understand that their greatest asset is their people. When businesses take care of their people the businesses and their people thrive. When they don’t take careof this incredibly valuable resource, they lose it. Fast.”

What approach do you take to life? Do you see the glass as half empty or half full? Or are you one of those who sees the glass as completely full no matter how much water it contains? Continue reading


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Unemotional Leadership—an Oxymoron

Guest post by Andrew Cravenho

I recently watched a rerun of Executive Suite, based on Cameron Hawley’s book of the same name. In this black and white classic, William Holden portrays a junior executive with great vision but limited executive experience. Upon the untimely death of the revered company president, the board must select a new leader.

The leading candidate is the scheming CFO played by Frederic March, a passionless, colorless bean counter groping for power, but with no vision beyond increasing dividend payouts to stockholders. In the final scene, Holden’s character displays his tremendous passion and sweeping vision for the direction he wants the company to take and ultimately gains the presidency. Read Article


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Becoming a decisive leader

“Decisiveness is a way of behaving, not an inherited trait. It allows us to make brave and confident choices, not because we know we’ll be right but because it’s better to try and fail than to delay and regret.”

Authors Chip Heath and Dan Heath wrote the book Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work with the following goals: “We want to make you a bit better at making good decisions, and we want to help you make your good decisions a bit more decisively. We also want to make you a better advisor to your colleagues and loved ones who are making decisions.”

The entire premise of the book is built around four principles the authors call the WRAP process:Decisive

  1. Widen Your Options
  2. Reality-Test Your Assumptions
  3. Attain Distance Before Deciding
  4. Prepare to be Wrong

To widen your options, ask yourself these questions: What are we giving up if we make this decision? What else could we do with the same time and money? Push for additional alternatives, for “this AND that” rather than “this OR that.” Find someone else who’s solved your problem, and learn from them.

To reality-test your assumptions, start by considering the opposite. Some companies have a formal process to prepare a case against a high-stakes proposal. Spark constructive disagreement within your organization. Find ways to bring real-world experience into your decision-making process.

As you make big decisions, take a step back and consider the larger impact. Use the 10/10/10 tool: how will I feel about the decision 10 minutes from now? How about 10 months from now? What about 10 years from now? Look at your situation from an observer’s perspective. Focus on your core priorities and create a “stop doing” list to help you weed out time wasters.

No decision maker is perfect, so prepare ahead of time to be wrong. Consider a range of outcomes, from very bad to very good. Conduct a ‘pre-mortem’—“it’s a year from now, our decision has failed utterly. Why?” Do a ‘pre-parade’—“It’s a year from now. We’re heroes. Will we be ready for success?” Set ‘tripwires’—deadlines or partitions—to help you realize you have choices.

Finally, you have to trust in the process. “Bargaining”—horse-trading until all sides can live with the choice—will take more time up front, but it accelerates implementation. Making sure others are aware of your decision making process is key to team buy-in.

Decisive is a great read, filled with stories and examples of how to analyze things rapidly and make informed decisions quickly. I guarantee it will keep you interested and you will learn techniques for making decisions. The book is replete with great stories that will keep you reading and learning. Some of my favorites include:

  • David Lee Roth, lead singer of the band Van Halen, put an M&Ms clause in every contract. The clause demanded a bowl of the candy without any brown M&Ms backstage before every concert. Was he a spoiled rock diva or an operations expert?
  • What major decision did Andy Grove, president of Intel, make in 1985 that was a huge turning point for the company?
  • The CEO of Quaker (the oats company) made a major decision in 1983 that cost his company more than $1.5 billion by the time it all played out.
  • Why did Zappos, the online shoe store based in Las Vegas, offer its new employees $1000 (now up to $4000) to quit their job (at Zappos)? Why do they have one of the lowest employee turnover rates of any company?
  • Why did Kodak executives allow digital images to kill their company? What did the executives know years ahead of time that could have saved the company?
  • How did the product Rogaine emerge successfully from mistakes made in another product line?

If you read only one book this year, make sure it’s Decisive!


The Product Management Perspective: Product managers make decisions constantly. They get bombarded with figures and estimates all the time, and they need to make decisions and move forward. The book Decisive has opened my eyes to new, better ways of making decisions. This is a must-read for all product managers and product marketing managers.


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Leadership and listening

Positive and effective communication starts with listening. When you listen first and ask questions second, you come away with a much better understanding of what the other person wanted you to know. If you need to communicate something to another person, state it quickly and then listen to their response. When you participate in meetings, listen to what the others have to say. Fight the impulse to talk; listen attentively and you’ll be amazed at what you learn.

Recently I had an eye-opening experience with learning by listening. My son invited me to attend a session with renowned sports performance enhancement coach Dr. Craig Manning. The only stipulation from my son was…”you have to set back and listen, and not make any comments.” [Those who know me well know I like to chime in and share my wisdom, so this would be a challenge for me.]

I accepted. I went to the session and for a full hour I sat still and listened. It was an amazing experience. Even though Dr. Manning was teaching my son, I learned some remarkable things about myself. I discovered actions I can take to improve my life and my work. All of this came because I listened (not only to Dr. Manning, but also to my son).

If you want to be happier, work more effectively, or improve your leadership, take the time to listen. Don’t just hear what people say, pause and reflect on what they really mean. Ask questions that will help you to better understand what the other person is saying. Listen, and become a better leader.


The Product Management Perspective: You work with a lot of different people, most of whom have opinions about your product. A well-known mantra in product management is “Your opinion, although interesting, is irrelevant.” While I agree the gist of this statement, I find value in listening to others’ opinions. The act of listening to others brings knowledge and enlightenment to us. Even if we end up doing something totally different from what the other person suggested, we all benefit from listening and considering alternatives.

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