Most technology companies are comprised of people and teams that discover, define, design, develop and deliver products to the market. Their success depends largely on how well these teams work together to produce great products and services. The role of product manager has become increasingly important to the success of the products and the companies; it has become increasingly strategic.
One aspect of the role of product management that makes it both enjoyable and difficult is the fact that, in most companies, the people on whom product managers depend to successfully release products do not report to them. Product managers have to act as the catalyst to drive unity and direction on the team without having management authority over the people (from other teams) they depend on for their success. This situation requires product managers to be leaders.
The following quotes by great leaders — while not written specifically to product managers — shed a light on key elements of leadership and product management:
Customer visits: ”A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.” – John Le Care
Product direction: ”Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.” – General Colin Powell
Responsibility: “A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit.” - John Maxwell
Team leadership: ”All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common; it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people…. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership.” - John Kenneth Galbraith
Time management: “Control is not leadership; management is not leadership; leadership is leadership. If you seek to lead, invest at least 50% of your time in leading yourself—your own purpose, ethics, principles, motivation, conduct. Invest at least 20% leading those with authority over you and 15% leading your peers.” - Dee Hock
Not all product managers will one-day lead their company in an executive roll. However, to increase the likelihood for success (with both products and careers), product managers should work diligently to become leaders in their organizations.
The Product Management Perspective: As a product manager you have the opportunity to build great products and have a very positive influence on your overall organization. Your influence can go a long way to building a great company.