Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


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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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Persistence and leadership

Great leaders are persistent. They persevere through trials and develop the ability to weather tough storms. Calvin Coolidge, 30th US President, said:

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

Persistence is a key characteristic of great leaders. Gaining it requires determination; a mindset that no matter what you will stick to your principles and goals. Achieving success requires hard work and a mindset to move forward regardless of the obstacles.

Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) articulates it powerfully in its IBD’s 10 Secrets to Success: “Be persistent and work hard. Success is a marathon, not a sprint. Never give up.”


The Product Management Perspective: The importance of persistence in creating great products cannot be overstated. Things do not always go as planned. Great product managers learn from past mistakes and continue to press forward regardless of the obstacles they face. Product success does not come overnight, but instead comes over time, though consistent application of sound principles.


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Five must-read blogs

Today’s post focuses on five blogs that have been great resources for me. These blogs and their authors have not only shaped my thinking but also inspired me to dig deeper and work harder. These are great blogs and I highly recommend you click through and spend some time learning from their authors.

Leadership: One of my favorite leadership blogs is Art Petty’s Management Excellence blog. Art writes about all things leadership, and he does a great job of explaining key points in a practical way.

Purpose: One of the most positive people I know is Dr. Paul Jenkins (“Dr. Paul”). His Parental Power courses are second to none, and his Live on Purpose podcast is a source of constant inspiration to help you evaluate and improve your life.

Product Management: If you want to learn about product management and understand it from a leader’s perspective, you need to read Jim Holland’s PM Tribe blog. Jim does a great job explaining principles in a way that’s easy to understand and apply to your situation.  Full disclosure: I worked for Jim in the past and consider him a mentor for life.

Product Marketing: April Dunford specializes in introducing new technology to the market. Her Rocket Watcher blog covers key aspects of taking products to market, both in startups and in large companies. Here wit and humor make it fun and a must-read for anyone interested in marketing.

New (to me): One of the newer blogs I’ve come across recently is We Move Together by Michael Hurley. The tagline is Thoughts and Observations on Leadership & Teamwork. From what I’ve read so far I’m impressed with Michael’s ability to tell stories in a way that inspires you to improve.

These are just five of many that have made a big impact on my life. Please leave a comment and share the blogs you like and the authors who have inspired you.


The Product Management Perspective: There are many great resources for learning about product management and improving your skills. The key is spending some time each day learning and networking with other PMs, marketers and dev gurus.


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Leadership and integrity

Integrity is one of the top attributes of a great leader. It is a concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations and outcomes. It connotes a deep commitment to do the right thing for the right reason, regardless of the circumstances. People who live with integrity are incorruptible and incapable of breaking the trust of those who have confided in them. Every human is born with a conscience and therefore the ability to know right from wrong. Choosing the right, regardless of the consequence, is the hallmark of integrity.

In his recent post 10 Mistakes Leaders Should Avoid at All Costs (on Michael Hyatt’s Intentional Leadership blog), Enrique Fiallo said the following about the importance of integrity in leadership:

There are many things you can lack and still steer clear of danger. Integrity isn’t one of them. Establish a set of sound ethics policies, integrate them into all business processes, communicate them broadly to all employees, and make clear that you will not tolerate any deviation from any of them. Then live by them.

The key that too many managers miss is “then live by them.” You cannot set policies that employees need to live by, and not live by them yourself. That will never work in the long run.

The book How Do You Kill 11 Million People? dives into the problems that leaders create when they lie to their people. Author Andy Andrews does a great job of describing the problems (often horrible and wide-spread) that come from a lack of integrity and character. He focuses primarily on the need for leaders to tell the truth and followers to recognize falsehoods and do something about them. “If you don’t know the truth, its absence can place you in bondage.”

Andrews thoughtfully promotes the long-term value of telling the truth, of being honest. Both tenets are key to living with integrity. He quotes Abraham Lincoln (probably the best known US president for having integrity) who promoted the importance of integrity and character in great leadership. Lincoln said: “Great leadership is a product of great character. And that is why character matters.”

I challenge all leaders to live and lead with integrity. You will not only benefit the people you lead, but also enjoy more peace in your personal life and experience greater success in your business endeavors.


The Product Management Perspective: To succeed as a product manager you must live with integrity. It’s crucial for product managers to build trust with the teams they work with and depend on. Trust grows through meaningful interaction with your teams and consistent application of proven principles. Developing trust and leading with integrity will increase the confidence others have in your work. When engineers, salespeople, marketers and others have confidence in their product managers, they will do amazing work.


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Guest Post: 3 Great Leaders and Their Unlikely Successes

By Anna Miller

We often study the principles of leadership in order to become leaders ourselves. However, as helpful as reading about leadership from a conceptual angle can be, the most effective way to learn is by example. Here are a few well-known leaders who are perfect examples of the saying, “Great leaders are made, not born.”

1. Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs, celebrated CEO of Apple, didn’t start out with his vision of innovation that is the hallmark of his wildly successful company. He dropped out of college, and first worked a small-time job at Atari in order to save money to make a trip to India seeking spiritual enlightenment. Perhaps the greatest lesson leaders can learn from Jobs is that developing an ability to anticipate future needs is central to leadership. Jobs famously said, “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.” This ability of anticipating future needs can only be developed by actively working on relationships in order to know people on a deeper level.

2. Henry Ford

Henry Ford is the quintessence of a great leader. Ford made affordable cars a reality with his model T, he pioneered the idea of assembly-line production, and eventually became one of the most successful industrialists to date. Like all great leaders, Ford was not afraid to take risks. He was sharply criticized for his offering $5 per day wage during the Great Depression. Nobody thought that doubling workers’ wage could possibly reap more profit for a company. But it worked; there was less employee turnover, the best workers from the nation flocked to his company, and as a result, less training was required, cutting costs enormously. Another leadership quality that Ford emphasized was life-long learning. Ford had various interests and actively cultivated each one. He once said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning is young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”

3. Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb, among thousands of other useful inventions, failed spectacularly many times before finally being successful. And it was his attitude toward failure that kept him persistent. Edison once said, “I have not failed, I’ve only found 1,000 different ways that won’t work.” Edison is thus a perfect example of that one quality that all great leaders possess — accepting failure as part of the process that leads to eventual success. Where others become disheartened by failure, leaders use it to fuel their motivation.

There are millions of examples of successful leaders out there, and not all of them are as famous as the ones presented here. The key thing to remember about leadership, as evidenced by these inspiring lives, is that persistence in the face of failure, ridicule, or just regular old stagnation, and above all, trust in one’s self and others, is what separates leaders from followers.

This guest post is contributed by Anna Miller, who writes on the topics of online degree.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id: anna22.miller [at]gmail.com.



The Product Management Perspective: These three leaders provide good examples of leadership in product management. Steve Jobs is a great (perhaps the best) example of understanding your markets. He understands his customers perhaps even better than they understand themselves. He is the master at anticipating future trends and turning them into reality. Henry Ford became the subject matter expert not just in cars, but in getting cars to market at a low-enough price that consumers could afford to buy his products. He took calculated risks and was rewarded accordingly. Thomas Edison brought new meaning to the word ‘persistent.’ He continually looked for new ways to do things, and never settled for ‘good enough.’ He was the thought leader of his time. Learning and implementing behaviors from these (and other great) leaders will improve your success as a product manager.

 


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Book Review: The Leader Who had no Title

We all need to lead where we are planted and shine where we now find ourselves.” According to Robin Sharma, the author of The Leader Who Had No Title: A Modern Fable on Real Success in Business and in Life, anyone can be a leader. Too many people go to work with the mindset that to be a leader they need to work their way up the company ladder, get the title or position they seek, and then they can be leaders. This is the wrong approach according to Sharma.

The book is written in a business fable style. The story is good and somewhat engaging. The leadership principles that surface in the story make the book worth reading. The foundation principle is self-leadership. Anyone who understands this can lead regardless of his or her official title in an organization. According to Sharma, “leaders are those individuals who do the things that failures aren’t willing to do–even though they might not like doing them either.” Too many people pay the sad costs of mediocrity and forego the spectacular rewards of being a leader.

In the story, the main character (Blake) has conversations with four unorthodox leaders. Each of these individuals works in a position that — based on conventional wisdom — would not be considered a leadership position. Each conversation brings out key principles that can help “ordinary” people become true leaders:

  • You need not title to be a leader: Success (business and personal) is something that’s consciously created. To lead without a title “you will have to be unrealistically persistent and wildly courageous.”
  • Turbulent times build great leaders: Challenging times in both business and life give us great opportunities to learn and transform ourselves. “Problems and difficult days are actually good for you.”
  • The deeper your relationships, the stronger your leadership: “Leave every single person who intersects your path better, happier, and more engaged than you found them.” Time spent forming deep relationships–in all aspects of life–will pay dividends down the road.
  • To be a great leader, first become a great person: Training and strengthening your inner leader will help you perform at extraordinary levels. The key is learning to lead yourself. In our world we define success by the things we have, not by the people we’ve become. The more self-awareness we develop the more likely we are to grow and help others.

If you are looking for practical ways to improve your leadership and your ability to make a difference where you’re at now, this book is a must-read. Though I’m not a veteran, I appreciate the thread of gratitude throughout the book for veterans who have served and for the freedoms espoused in America.

The Product Management Perspective: This is a great book for product managers. Too often we agonize over titles and the fact that some people/organizations do not give us the “respect we deserve.” We have the opportunity to become leaders in our organizations, regardless of the title or the perception of others.


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Leadership and persistence

Persistence is one of the key characteristics of great leaders. Gaining it requires determination and a mindset that — no matter what happens — you will stick to your principles and goals. Persistence in leadership is analogous to running a marathon. To run a successful marathon you have to spend ample time (months or more) preparing. The time you spend, and what you do leading up to the race, will determine how well you perform during the race. To succeed in leadership you have to work hard and continually hone your interpersonal skills. You find ways to motivate successful teamwork and positive interaction.

Great leaders are persistent. They persevere through trials and develop the ability to weather tough storms. Calvin Coolidge, 30th US President, summed it up nicely:

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

Success in leadership comes from developing and perfecting persistence and determination.


The Product Management Perspective: The importance of persistence in creating great products cannot be overstated. Things do not always go as planned. Great product managers learn from past mistakes and continue to press forward regardless of the obstacles they face. Product success does not come overnight, but instead comes over time, though consistent application of sound principles.


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Trust and credibility

How do you effectively develop trust in your organization? Trust is built over time as you follow through with the promises you make. Your credibility — the quality or power of inspiring belief — grows in much the same way. The principles of trust and credibility are tightly linked and build on each other.

In his book The Speed of TrustStephen M.R. Covey defines the “4 Cores of Credibility” as foundational elements that make you believable, both to yourself and to others. The first two cores deal with character, the second two with competence:

Core 1: Integrity: Many equate integrity with honesty. While honesty is a key element, integrity is much more. It’s integratedness, walking your talk and being congruent, inside and out. It’s having the courage to act in accordance with your values and beliefs. Most violations of trust are violations of integrity.

Core 2: Intent: At the core of intent are motives, agendas and the resulting behavior. Trust grows when your motives are straight forward and based on mutual benefit — when you genuinely care not only for yourself, but also for the people you interact with, lead or serve.

Core 3: Capabilities: Your capabilities are the abilities you have that inspire confidence — your talents, attitude, skills, knowledge and style. They are the means you use to produce results.

Core 4: Results: Your results comprise your track record, your performance and getting the right things done. If you don’t accomplish what you are expected to do it diminishes your credibility. On the other hand, when you achieve the results you promised, you establish a positive reputation of performing, of being a producer.

Each of these cores is vital to credibility. They work together to build trust. The strength of your character and competence equate to the strength of your leadership.

The Product Management Perspective: Trust is vital to successful product management. Product managers create value for their co-workers on other teams (e.g. development, support, etc.) by clearly defining requirements, roadmaps and portfolios. Trust grows through meaningful interaction with your teams and consistent application of proven principles. Trust is a two-way street: product managers need to carry out their tasks in such a way that the team members can trust them. They (the PMs) also need to trust that the team members will do what they have committed to do.


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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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Three P’s of business success

What is required to create a successful business? The answer to this question varies greatly depending on experience, industry and many other factors. Achieving business success seems highly complex at face value. However, the principles that lead to success are not necessarily complex or difficult. When you focus on the right areas and create a culture to support them, success comes naturally. Lee Iacocca, a business executive best known for his revival of Chrysler Corp. in the 1980s, put it this way: “In the end, all business operations can be reduced to three words: people, product and profits. People come first.” With the right ‘business operations’ in place, your company will achieve success:

  • People: In any company or organization, the real assets are the people. Their intellect—along with personality, skills, knowledge, character, integrity, and other things collectively referred to as “human life value”—create the true value in any organization. When you regard the people as the true assets of the company, and treat them accordingly, they will respond in ways that will surprise and delight you. As the leader of your company, put the people first and you will reap great benefits.
  • Products: Compelling products (or services) create success. To the extent you create great products, that people want to buy, you will achieve success. Creating compelling products comes back to the people. You need people who focus on getting the right products to the right market at the right time. Successful companies establish a product management/marketing role (or group), empower them with the ability to make decisions, and hold them accountable for their actions. This role is critical to the success of any company and according to Steve Johnson should have a seat at the executive table.
  • Profits: Without profits, nothing else (in your business) really matters. The efforts to hire the right people and create convincing products and services lead to profits.

Whether you are starting a new business or working to improve your current company, focusing on people, products and profits will lead you to success.


The Product Management Perspective: As a product manager, do you feel responsible for the success of your company? You no-doubt spend a lot of your time focusing on your products. You work with different people every day and have found some easier to work with than others. How much effort do you exert in building relationships of trust with the people on your team? These relationships are key to your success.

Of the three P’s listed above, the one that typically receives the least focus by product managers is profits (or perhaps more clearly stated, revenue). Too often we leave the worries and cares about money to the CFO’s office. We worry about getting requirements in place and making sure products releases meet their schedules, but we neglect the most important reason we create products…to gain profits.

Do revenue and profits factor in to your decisions as a product manager? How would your product requirements change if you focused more on profits? Please leave a comment and share your experiences.

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