Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


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How do you win the war for talent?

Guest post by Sarah Sladek

About 40 years ago, shortly after the Baby Boomers (1946-1964) were born, demographers and industry leaders realized that someday this generation of 78 million Americans would retire and the nation would experience a shortage of experienced and knowledgeable talent.

Alas, the time has come.

We’re on the brink of the largest shift in human capital in history and we’re still not prepared. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts Generation Y (1982-1995) will become the majority of the workforce in 2015. It’s high time to start preparing for and developing the next generation of talent.

With almost every company out there expecting to lose a significant portion of their employee base through retirements, competition among employers is likely to heat up, making the recruitment and retention of talented workers considerably more difficult.

Want to win the war for talent? Here’s what your company needs to do to engage the next generation now. Continue reading


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Six Channels of Influence: How to Navigate Them Effectively

Guest post by Willy Steiner

The human being is a self-propelled automaton entirely under the control of external influences. Willful and predetermined though they appear, his actions are governed not from within, but from without. He is like a float tossed about by the waves of a turbulent sea.” – Nikola Tesla

Humans are very complex organisms. We are the sum of the various influences of our lives – family, educational, religious, social, national and organizational. I had a client who worked quite a few years in a top-down, command-and-control type of environment. When his boss concurred with his recommendations, that seal of approval, that authority, was all he needed to influence things. When I got to know him he had moved to another organization and proceeded to start with buy-in from his boss prior to the implementation of various solutions. But he got significant cultural resistance because this was not a command-and-control type of environment. He had to work hard developing relationships to get buy-in and reduce resistance. Once we appreciated the differences in influence style between the different organizations, I was very proud to see how my client worked hard to adapt to this new model of influence in the new organization. Continue reading


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How leaders create happy customers and great results

How do leaders create sustained growth and make an obvious improvement to the bottom line of their company? Is it really possible for one (or a few) people to make a major difference in the results of a big organization? The answer, of course, is ‘yes’—if they take the right approach.

When leaders engage with their employees and gain their trust, the employees in turn provide a positive experience for the customers. Delighted by their experience, customers come back. They not only come back, they tell their friends who buy products and services. The bottom line grows and, if practiced consistently over time, the company has long-term, sustained growth.

Michael Hyatt describes how influential leaders improve customer focus and make a major difference: Continue reading


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Six Principles of Persuasion for Leaders

Guest post by Brad Zomick

There is no worse feeling then when you are trying to lead a group and no one on the team is taking you seriously. Nobody listening to you makes it difficult, or even impossible, to achieve your shared goal. With these short principles of persuasion, we hope to put those experiences in the past.

Many studies have been done about the science of persuasion, and Robert Cialdini is perhaps one of the most respected experts in the field. He has distilled persuasion in to 6 principles that have been widely adopted in the field of marketing. Today we are going see how to apply these skills to real-world situations to master the art of leadership.

Principle #1 – Reciprocity

This one goes back to the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you.” Regardless of your rank and command, if you want to earn the respect of those around you, you need give respect first, and do it in a personal and if possible unexpected way. Next time one of your employees does a good job, let them know it. Go above and beyond verbal recognition. Simply put, to get a lot, you have to give a little.

Principle #2 – Scarcity

It is human nature to desire things that are available in limited quantities and the less there is, the more people want it. It can be applied to the respect and rewards that are directed to employees. If you are going to be rewarding your employees with tangible items, set up a system where the reward is limited and certain goals need to be met to achieve them.

Another application of scarcity is through communication. For instance, when you are assigning a task or responsibility, make it sound unique and exciting and stress what your employees stand to lose from not getting involved.

Principle #3 – Authority

You can command the authority of your employees with two tactics beyond your formal job title. If you are the boss, dress like it. Make sure your outfit is clean, ironed and appropriate for your work environment. If you have the appearance of authority, it is more likely people will respond favorably to your requests.

You should also be knowledgeable about the company and your role within it. Your knowledge will speak for itself. You will slowly gain authority without ever asking for it.

Principle #4 – Consistency

People find comfort in commitment. As a leader, you often are seeking and asking for commitment from constituents, but you need to lead by example first, and give voluntary, active, and public commitments. Show your employees that you are reliable and in turn you can expect the same from them.

Principle #5 – Liking

People are more likely to oblige requests from people they like and know well, and we tend to like those who are similar and those who give compliments, and cooperate well. As a leader, you should strive to get to know your employees. Learn about them and find common bonds.

Principle #6 – Consensus

When we are unsure we look to the actions and behavior of others guide our decision making process.  A leader can use this in two ways. When trying to get a team member to do something, you can refer to the herd mentality, implying that everyone does it the way you suggest, or make the person feel included by approaching them individually to request they join the team.

Conclusion

No doubt we can all see many missed opportunities in the work place where a simple gesture or rewording of a sentence could have improved the outcome of situation. Let those bygones be bygones and move forward with Robert Cialdini’s six principles of persuasion, which are timeless soft skills that any leader can use regardless of the size or type of organization. Practice these principles and you will not only become a better leader but you will earn the respect of your colleagues, team members, and superiors. The best part is they will not only respect you, but like you too. What’s not to like about that!

This is a guest post by Brad Zomick from SkilledUp.com – the leading source of reviews, ratings and deals on online courses, with over 50,000 courses from over 200 providers available in every subject. Find online courses at SkilledUp.com to get skills and get ahead, and visit us on Facebook and Twitter.


The Product Management Perspective: The principles discussed above apply nicely to product management. Look for ways to lead with consistency and consensus, and your products – and the customers that use them – will reap the benefits.


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Influential leadership

One of the marks of great leaders is their influence on other people. We all know people who have helped us get to where we are today. Their ultimate goal was to help us become more successful and achieve more than they have achieved.

It might seem like taking the time to help others be better than yourself would take away from your opportunities to improve (at whatever you’re working on). However, the very act of lifting and inspiring others advances the one doing the lifting and inspiring. This is the heart of influential leadership.

The way we can change the world is to help others to be greater than we are and help them pass it on. While your positive influence will help those you choose counsel, it will do wonders for you, for your success and your satisfaction with life.


The Product Management Perspective: Product managers rarely manage the people or processes necessary for their products’ success. To succeed you need to build consensus and exert positive influence on the teams you work with. Be the influential leader and you will see an increase in the success of your products.


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Three leadership questions

As another year comes to a close and a new year is on the horizon, it’s natural to look back at how things went in the past year and resolve to do better in the next. Here are three questions to ponder as you prepare to lead on purpose in 2013:

What are you doing to build trust with those you lead?

Building trust is a critical factor in leading others to success. Trust is a two-way street: you need to live and act so that others can trust you, and you need to trust others to do what they say they’ll do. Randy Conley points out a key factor in building trust: “Repairing broken trust can be a long and arduous process, and the best way to build trust with others is to not break it in the first place.”

How will you influence those you lead?

Great leaders have an uncanny ability to influence others. It’s important to focus your influence in positive areas that will build others. As Mike Myatt said in a recent post, “A leader simply operates at their best when they understand their ability to influence is much more fruitful than their ability to control.”

Are you confident in your ability to succeed?

Acting with confidence can feel like walking a tightrope: if you have too much of it you come off as cocky or arrogant, if have too little you’re seen as passive or weak. Yet developing confidence is a defining key to success. “Act confident even when you feel the opposite. If you know that you can look like a confident, capable person, eventually you’ll start to feel it, too.” This is just one of many excellent ideas on unleashing your inner confidence by Lolly Daskal.

While not all encompassing, spending time answering these questions – and taking steps to improve based on your answers – will get you off to a great start in 2013.


The Product Management Perspective: Leadership in product management is developed over time; however, certain skills accelerate that development. Building trust, exercising positive influence and showing confidence are key skills for developing successful products. Spend time developing these attributes and you will reap the rewards.


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Valuing the Differences of Others

Guest post by Dr. Andrew L. Thorn

I recently participated in two very different but similar meetings. The focus of each of the meetings was exactly the same, but the complexity of each group was completely different.

In one group, the people embraced a very similar philosophy and mindset on the proposed topic. The other group was filled with people who represented very different perspectives, viewpoints and backgrounds.

I gained a lot from both experiences, but after a while, I became very bored with the similar group. They definitely had every viewpoint from A to B well represented, but beyond that, it was hard to find any value. Unfortunately, we didn’t make much progress in accomplishing our purpose.

The diverse group challenged my thinking. There were view points represented that were difficult for me to comprehend because they were so different than my own. The meeting participants were energetic and courteous. They were not afraid to have their views questioned or examined by the others. They were very open to learning from the other group members.

Understanding Others

I thoroughly enjoyed the meeting with this diverse group and I left with a healthy appreciation and affection for each member. I never felt challenged to change my values, and as a result, I felt safe to open my mind to new ideas. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to examine the beliefs of others. Instead of judging them, I suspended my previous assumptions and allowed myself to see what they see. Because I was willing to extend this courtesy to them, they returned the favor to me.

I discovered that even though my values and opinions remained basically the same, my influence with my new friends increased. This dramatically affected our ability to work together. As a result, we made significant progress on our common interests.

 

Authentic Leadership

My experiences with these two groups reminded me of something my brother Larry taught me. Whenever we disagreed, he would say, “if we were all the same, there would be no need for all of us”.

This statement continues to guide my work. I understand that I am most effective when I surround myself with people who think and act much differently than I do. My association with friends of different opinions creates many opportunities to stretch my way of thinking.

Great leaders do not fear the fringes or the edges. They recognize that by creating space for all voices to be heard, they become an authentic agent of change. Because their influence is felt, their leadership is more highly regarded. When the point of decision arrives, they are seen as credible and trustworthy.

The Big Picture

Just because we learn to view things from a larger perspective does not mean that we must abandon our own values, it simply means that we learn to see what is going on in the complete system. When we do this, we create solutions that accelerate growth and development.

I realize that it is difficult to suspend our beloved biases and judgments, but it can be done without losing our individual identity, and a better solution almost always emerges when we do it. I invite you to consider the following questions:

How willing are you to consider viewpoints that are different from your own?

What benefits come from stretching to see the perspectives of others?

How do you feel when someone takes the time to see things as you see them?

Remember, the real point of leadership is not to change others, but to enroll them in a collaborative effort to achieve a common goal. You are free to draw the line in your personal values, most of us even expect you to do so and respect you when you do. When we become secure in who we are, we become more free about opening ourselves up to others, and that is when our effectiveness as a leader truly soars.

Dr. Andrew L. Thorn

Dr. Andrew Thorn is the founder of Telios Corporation and creator of The Telios Experience™.  He holdsa PhD in Consulting Psychology, a Masters in Personal and Executive Coaching, and a Masters in Business Administration from Pepperdine University.  Dr. Thorn is also the author of U-wun-ge-lay-ma: A Guide to Next-level Living and the upcoming book Who Do You Want To Be When You Grow Whole? The Future of Meaning and Purpose.  He lives in Apple Valley, California with his wife Stacy and seven children.     


The Product Management Perspective: One of the highpoints of being a product manger is working with a diverse group of people. From developers, to marketers to salespeople, to executives, we get to work closely with all of them. Sometimes they challenge us; sometimes they make life miserable. If we are open to new ideas and willing to learn from others, our products will be all the better. As Dr. Thorn says, “a better solution almost always emerges when we suspend our beloved biases.” Enroll your team in a collaborative effort to achieve great products.

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