Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


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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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Lead by Example

Five Ways to Be Influential and Succeed with Your Team

Guest post by Tess Pajaron

At my former job, I had a boss who would consistently tell people how important it was to leave the office on time and balance work and life. Then, he would text in the evenings, brag about how late he stayed after everyone had left and go into the office each weekend. He did not lead by example and it made the workplace confusing, uncertain and ultimately stressful.

Being a leader can be difficult. You may have some employees who communicate differently than others, conflicts to overcome within your team and roadblocks that can stunt creativity. But in the end, when you lead by example, you set the tone for your team and create a culture in your department and office.

Here are five ways you can lead by example and influence your team to innovate and succeed every time:

1. Communicate Effectively

Open communication is one of the most important aspects of solid team cohesiveness. Solid communication starts by listening. When you as the leader listen to your team members, you in turn lead by example and demonstrate them the importance of listening each and every time. This skill of listening can be a challenge for some teams, but when you set the example and create a culture of listening to various opinions, ideas and feedback you give your team a forum to feel comfortable expressing their ideas. This has been shown to improve innovation among teams. When each person shares their opinion openly, ideas come together and everyone plays an important role in the outcome of the project.

2. Practice What You Preach

Great leadership is done with integrity and honesty. When you practice the same good habits that you preach to your team members, you show integrity in your actions and become more trustworthy. Walking the talk goes a long way with employees when it comes to how much they respect what you have to say. When you do the opposite of what you request of them, for example not leaving the office on time and working weekends, your employees begin to doubt your leadership and wonder if they should be doing as you say or as you do. This can create a sense of confusion and quickly drive a team apart.

3. Empower Through Delegation

You brought your team together because you, or someone else in your organization, trusted in your employee’s ability to help your organization. Delegating out tasks hands over this trust and shows your team that you believe in their capabilities. If you do everything yourself, you are not leading by example but instead you are sending a signal that their input does not matter and that it is your way or no way. To have the most success, engage your team by providing them tasks to accomplish and lead by being a resource of information to help them accomplish what they are capable of.

4. Share Responsibility

A certain sense of humility goes in to leading a team well. When you discuss openly, you may find that you are wrong. Being able to admit that you are wrong for the greater good of the project and team success is a prime case of leading by example. When you can do this, you also allow your team to feel as if it is acceptable when they are wrong on an idea making them feel more comfortable with their creativity and idea generation. These ideas help fuel innovation, so sharing responsibility and being proactive in coming up with the best solution for the project as a group is essential.

5. Set Goals

Finally, having an end goal in sight that every member of the team is working toward will help you to lead toward that goal. This will allow you lead by example as you work hard toward the end goal. When your team sees you working hard toward the end goal, they in turn will do the same.

Leading by example can be difficult but using these five tips can make you a more influential leader. This is what will make you and your team a success.

Tess Pajaron is part of the team behind Open Colleges. She graduated in Business Administration with a major in Management. When not working, she loves to travel and discover new places and cultures. She can also be found on Cerebral Hacks, where she regularly contributes articles about psychology.


The Product Management Perspective: The five ideas above are all important aspects of successful product management. One of the key ideas from my perspective is building trust. Product managers who trust the other teams to do their job, and work/act in ways that allow others to trust them, have much more success with their products.


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Working with others

Collaboration is the master skill that allows teams to function effectively. Whether you are the leader (or manager or ‘boss’) of the team or a contributing member, working effectively with others on the team is key to your success.

To improve collaboration and work more effectively, talk openly and candidly with your team. When problems arise, go to the source and tackle issues head-on. Listen to what other people say and be willing to make changes based on their feedback. Use your positive influence to drive to a mutually beneficial results.

The key to working effectively with others is recognizing what drives them, valuing their perspectives, and encouraging them to fill in where you have gaps.


The Product Management Perspective: As product managers we’ve said a lot about how we should be driving the product direction and not let development drive it. While I agree with the overall concept, there are a lot of developers that know their (your) products very in-depth, they are passionate about their products’ success and they really do (quite often) have good ideas. We should listen to them. I’m currently ramping up to speed with my new products and relying heavily on my development teams. I put tremendous significance on their product knowledge and their desire to make the products better. Your relationship with the development team(s) is critical; do yourself a favor and listen to their ideas.


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Leadership — what you leave

How do you measure the effectiveness of leadership? A few common methods include:
  • The number of people reporting up through the organization
  • The quantity or amount of product or services produced
  • The “bottom line” or income produced by the company
  • The number of links, references or accolades to the leader or the organization
  • Other methods that focus on things and not people.

These are all valid and important ways to measure leadership, and many others exist. However, the true — and more telling — measure of leadership is long-term and cannot easily be seen. Leadership is best measured by what you leave behind.

Some people become frustrated by the lack of immediate results. The thought of waiting months or years to see the results of their labors is discouraging. However, if you look at the actions and attitudes of people whom you consider true leaders, you will find they focus on building others. They put as their first concern the growth and development of the people with whom they interact. The results of their success carry forward through the people they have influenced over the years.

The Product Management Perspective: Product managers have a great opportunity to lead and influence others in their company. This opportunity grows out of the fact that PMs work closely with many people from other teams throughout the company. While working with others can be frustrating (do I hear sales?), if we keep a long-term perspective and focus on how we can help them and make a difference in what they do, the long-term benefit will remain with us as we move forward.


The theme for this post came from a talk by David A. Bednar.


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Five myths about leadership

True leadership principles endure the test of time regardless of the economy or world affairs. The more you practice them the more they become part of your life.

One of the best ways to understand principles is to understand their opposites. John Maxwell — author of the book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership — does a masterful job of explaining the leadership principle of influence through the five myths about leadership:

  1. The Management Myth: Management focuses on maintaining systems and processes. Influential leadership is about influencing people to follow.
  2. The Entrepreneur Myth: People may be buying what somebody is selling (or saying), but they are not necessarily buying into his leadership or vision.
  3. The Knowledge Myth: Mental superiority does not necessarily equate to leadership.
  4. The Pioneer Myth: The one in front is not necessarily the leader. The leader is the one with the vision that people want to follow.
  5. The Position Myth: The greatest misunderstanding about leadership is that people think it’s based on position. Maxwell quotes Stanley Huffty, “It’s not the position that makes the leader; it’s the leader that makes the position.”
If you want to increase your influence, understand these five myths and practice their opposites.

Update: A good friend of mine pointed out that the myths I list are actually facts — the myths should be falsehoods. He’s right, I wrote the statements as facts, not myths. Here’s Take 2 on my interpretation of Maxwell’s five myths (written as myths):
  1. Leading and managing are one and the same
  2. All entrepreneurs are leaders
  3. Those people who possess knowledge or intelligence are leaders
  4. Anyone who is out in front of a crowd is a leader
  5. Leadership is based on position
The Product Management Perspective: Product managers need to understand each of the five myths and practice the opposite behaviors. Perhaps the one that comes most naturally is the management myth: 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.


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What matters in 2010?

With just a few weeks left in 2009 you have no-doubt spent time thinking about the events of the past year and the growth and changes that have resulted.

What matters in 2010? Seth Godin, marketing guru and thought leader, did a cool project where he brought together more than seventy “big thinkers” to write the ebook What Matters Now. His purpose: “Now, more than ever, we need a different way of thinking, a useful way to focus and the energy to turn the game around.” Here are a few of the thought-provoking ideas:

“If you make a difference, people will gravitate to you. They want to engage, to interact and to get you more involved.” -Seth Godin

“Leadership is more than influence. It is about reminding people of what it is we are trying to build—and why it matters. It is about painting a picture of a better future. It comes down to pointing the way and saying, ‘C’mon. We can do this!’” -Michael Hyatt

“Here’s the final measure of your success as a speaker: did you change something? Are attendees leaving with a new idea, some new inspiration, perhaps a renewed commitment to their work or to the world?” -Mark Hurst

“The road to sustainability goes through a clear-eyed look at unsustainability.” -Alan M. Webber

“After a decade of truly spectacular underachievement, what we need now is less management and more freedom – fewer individual automatons and more autonomous individuals.” -Daniel H. Pink

“The future belongs to people who can spread ideas.” -Guy Kawasaki (read Guy’s ‘ten things to remember’)

“You can earn attention by creating something interesting and valuable and then publishing it online for free.” -David Meerman Scott

“You’re probably trying to change things at home or at work. Stop agonizing about what’s not working. Instead, ask yourself, ‘What’s working well, right now, and how can I do more of it?’” -Chip Heath & Dan Heath

“You grow (and thrive!) by doing what excites you and what scares you everyday, not by trying to find your passion.” -Derek Sivers

“Winning businesses have a common trait, an obvious and divisive point of view. Losing businesses also have a common trait, a boring personality alienating no one and thus, sparking passion from no one.” -John Moore

“My eyes have been opened to the value of regularly closing them.” -Arianna Huffington (on the value of sleep)

“The secret learned by technology providers is to spend less time providing services for citizens, and to spend more time providing services to developers…This is the right way to frame the question of ‘Government 2.0.’ How does government become an open platform that allows people inside and outside government to provide better services to each other?” -Tim O’Reilly

“Declare war on passivity. Hush the inner voice that insists you’re over the hill, past your prime, unworthy of attaining those dreams. Disbelief is now the enemy, as is the notion of settling. Get hungry — hyena hungry. Get fired up. Find your backbone, and your wings.” -J.C. Hutchins

Seth and his coauthors are trying to get five million downloads of the ebook. Help them out; you will be the beneficiary. Read Seth’s post about the ebook here.

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