Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

Product leadership


The position of Product Manager is the single most important individual contributor role at any technology (product-focused) company. 

I understand that many of you may not agree with my statement (I invite you to leave a comment and make your case for a more important position). The reason I make such a bold statement is this: If the product manager succeeds, the product succeeds. If the product team succeeds, the product line(s) will make money and the company will succeed.

The key to success is product leadership. Without leadership, products churn, wring out money and waste a lot time. With leadership, ideas flow, solid products are released and sales increase. The following five practices will guide you to become an effective product leader:

  • Build relationships: Product managers depend on others in engineering, marketing, sales, etc. for their success (this is core to my opening assertion). This dependence makes building relationships essential. People are assets; the only way to effectively work with others is to build positive, effective working relationships. Listen to them, consider their circumstances, show empathy, then move forward and make decisions that will be beneficial for everyone in your organization.
  • Develop trust: I’ve written a lot about trust lately. In my experience, trust is the most important behavior for product managers to master, and is summed up nicely in The Speed of Trust: “When trust goes up, speed goes up and costs go down.” The opposite is also true.
  • Improve visibility: As product managers understand their customers and become the market experts, their visibility (importance as seen by others in the organization) increases. Become adept at leading product vision from the ground up.
  • Increase value: Every product manager must know how much his/her products contribute to the bottom line. Quantify the value your products bring to the company and work aggressively to increase that value over time.
  • Create accountability: Product managers are ultimately accountable for the success of their products. Part of being a product leader is not only accepting accountability for your product’s success but also creating accountability with those you depend on release your products. Be decisive: do not shy away from making decisions — it will improve your credibility.

Your decisions — in every aspect of the product management life-cycle — lead to product success. Make decisions, then stand behind them.

The Product Management Perspective: Embrace your “most important” role and be the leader among your peers.

3 thoughts on “Product leadership

  1. .Become adept at leading product vision from the ground up?

  2. Pingback: Five rules for executive product leadership « Lead on Purpose

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