Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

The essence of leadership

2 Comments

Here’s a fitting leadership quote for uncertain times:

”All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common; it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership.”

– John Kenneth Galbraith


The Product Management Perspective: Look for opportunities to ease the concerns and anxiety of the people you work with. You may not be their boss, but because you are the product manager, people on other teams look to you for not only direction, but also assurance that things will be okay. They need to know the company will get through these difficult times and their product(s) will succeed. You can give them that confidence; take the initiative.

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2 thoughts on “The essence of leadership

  1. >Look for opportunities to ease the concerns and
    >anxiety of the people you work with.
    Agreed! As your lead paragraph says, a leader must confront those anxieties.

    >They need to know the company will get through these
    >difficult times and their product(s) will succeed.
    Don’t fully agree here.
    You’ve tagged this post with ‘Trust’. If you’re one of those PM’s that is purely ‘Rah rah! We’re gonna win!” you’re going to lose your team’s trust.

    Instead talk to what needs to happen to win, and give people context to understand how they can contribute to achieving those goals.
    People don’t remember Churchill for saying “We’re going to win!”, they remember “we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender,”

    Most of us Product Managers are not doing anything as important and daunting as fighting a war, but we can certainly learn from leaders who have.

  2. Andrew,

    You are correct, the ‘rah rah!’ speeches do not work; never have, never will. The key to giving them context is understanding the market problems you are working to solve, writing succinct feature and requirements definitions, and communicating them openly and honestly. When they know the PM is open and honest, they will trust him/her and will rally behind the “product cause.”

    Nice quote from Churchill, thanks. -Michael

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