Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


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Trust in Leadership – 5 Key Practices to Earn Trust

Guest post by Daniela Baker

One recent article in Forbes magazine examined the interesting phenomenon behind a shift in today’s leadership principles. The article’s author asserts that old leadership models were based on power because business was essentially about competition.

Today’s more collaborative, creative business models, on the other hand, require leaders with high emotional intelligence – business leaders who can build trust among their colleagues and employees.

The bottom line: if you want to make it as a real leader in today’s business culture, you’ve got to earn trust from those above, below, and beside you. Here are five key practices to help you do this:

1. Be vulnerable

On some level, trust comes from authenticity. If your people see you as an authentic, open, vulnerable human being, they’ll be more likely to trust you.

There’s a fine line to walk here, though. You don’t want to be naïve and set yourself up to be taken advantage of, but you do want to own up to your failures and be honest and humble. One way to do this is to let some of your personal life into your work – though, again, there’s a fine line to walk here. Another way to do this is to admit past or current mistakes, especially when mentoring your team members.

2. Don’t pass the buck

President Harry Truman was famous for the wooden sign on his desk reading “The Buck Stops Here.” One of the reasons Truman was able to build trust in those around him was that he wasn’t afraid to take responsibility for his decisions.

This should be one of your mottos as a trust-building leader. Yes, there will be times when other people will mess up, and you’ll have to deal with that. But if a decision ultimately comes down to you, make the choice, and then stand by the consequences – good or bad. If your team knows that you aren’t going to try to pass the blame to someone else, they’ll trust you more.

3. Stop micro-managing

Micro-management in the work place is a great way to tear down trust. That’s because trust is a two-way street. In order to feel trust for you, your team members also need to feel that you trust them. And if you’re constantly micro-managing their processes, they won’t feel that you trust them.

If you think you might possibly be a micro-manager, talk to others about this. Then, learn to step back and let your team members do their work. This may mean leaving room for failure, but it also means leaving space for others to learn from their mistakes.

4. Allow room for confrontation

As a leader, people will trust you more if they feel that they can bring up negative points about you, your team, a project you’re working on, or whatever. You don’t want to seek out confrontation, but you should leave space for healthy, professional confrontation that, in the long run, improves relationships.

You can create this culture by not shying away from the hard conversations with your team members. And you can create space for negative feedback by meeting with your team members on a regular basis. If you are confronted about a mistake, a choice, or something else a team member is unhappy about, listen to their complaints, take them seriously, and handle the confrontation as professionally as possible.

5. Tell it like it is

Talking in circles or constantly using subtext in your professional life is another way to break down trust. To build it up, practice telling it like it is. Open up; write a blog that others can see. For instance, we publish a blog for small business owners to help us earn trust from partners, small business owners, and our fellow team members.

This doesn’t mean you need to be tactless, but you do need to be direct and honest. If you have a reputation for directness and honesty, others will learn to trust what you say about yourself, your team, and your work.

Remember, building trust takes time, and it’s a very relational thing. You can have a great reputation for trust company-wide, but if you break trust with one person on your team, you’ll have to work hard to rebuild that person’s trust in you. This takes time and effort, but if you consistently put these five habits into practice, you’ll be a more trustworthy leader in general.

Daniela Baker from CreditDonkey is a small business blogger and social media advocate.  She studied journalism and new media. She has lived on three continents and collaborates closely with a select group of international publishers. One of her favorite quotes is: “Decisions are made by those who show up.”


The Product Management Perspective: Trust is the most important characteristic a product manager can possess. To effectively work with development, sales and other teams in your organization you must gain their trust. Trust is key to understanding your customers and your market. Trust is a two-way street: you need to carry out your tasks in such a way that the team members will trust you. You also need to trust that the team members will do what they have committed to do. The five key practices listed above provide an excellent roadmap to developing trust with your teams.


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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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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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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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Five championship strategies

One of the most amazing sports records in the history of all sports is 401 wins and 9 losses. This is the career record of Larry Gelwix, coach of the Highland High rugby team (Salt Lake City) for more than three decades. This team was featured in the recent movie Forever Strong. Larry recently recorded a podcast with my friend Dr. Paul on Live on Purpose Radio. During this conversation Larry shares the strategies that have made his teams successful through the years.

What struck me the first time I listened to this podcast is how beautifully these principles apply to product management, to leadership and to life in general. They have obviously worked for Larry and his rugby teams throughout the years.
Here are the five championship strategies:
  1. Choose what team you’re going to play for. Decide what ‘jersey’ you’re going to wear in life, in love, in business, in relationships. Where is your loyalty? Where is your heart? Figure it out, make a decision and don’t look back.
  2. Don’t play with snakes. Every situation has a right and wrong; choose the right.
  3. Hit the field running. Attitude and effort are more important than natural ability. Attitude and effort are more important than natural smarts. Attitude and effort separate the champs from the chumps. Attitude follows behavior; if you want to change your attitude, change your behavior.
  4. Expect to win. Larry spells ‘win’ as an acronym, W.I.N., which stands for “what’s important now.” Look at every situation and ask, “what do I need to accomplish?” Then ask, “what’s important now?” We need to look ahead and have goals for future success, and make choices right now that take us in that direction.
  5. Focus on the final score. Focus on the end game; focus on who you want to be; focus on what you ultimately want to achieve. In life we all write the script of the final person we want to be. If my final score is who I want to be — a man or woman of integrity, of honesty, of virtue, of hard work, of ethics — then I can sustain setbacks and difficulties that come.

Living these five championship strategies will make an incredible difference in your success. As Larry says: “these strategies work!” He has proven this as a coach and as a successful CEO. Don’t miss this podcast; you’ll be glad you listened.


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Trust

The recent theme at Lead on Purpose is trust. This focus has come primarily from reading The Speed of Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey. He discusses the concept of building a trust account, which is similar to a bank account. By behaving in ways that build trust you make deposits, by behaving in ways that destroy trust you make withdrawals. The ‘balance’ in the account reflects the amount of trust you have at any given time. You have a unique trust account with every person you know, and all deposits and withdrawals are not created equal.

Trust is built or destroyed by behaviors. Covey teaches 13 Behaviors of high-trust people and leaders worldwide. These behaviors will increase trust and improve your ability to interact effectively with people in every aspect of your life. Here are the behaviors that will help you build trust:
  1. Talk Straight: Be honest. Tell the truth. Let people know where you stand.
  2. Demonstrate Respect: Genuinely care for others. Respect the dignity of every person and every role.
  3. Create Transparency: Tell the truth in a way people can verify. Get real and genuine. Be open and authentic.
  4. Right Wrongs: Make things right when you’re wrong. Apologize quickly. Make restitution where possible.
  5. Show Loyalty: Give credit to others. Speak about people as if they were present. Represent others who aren’t there to speak for themselves.
  6. Deliver Results: Establish a track record of results. Get the right things done. Make things happen.
  7. Get Better: Continuously improve. Increase your capabilities. Be a constant learner.
  8. Confront Reality: Take issues head on, even the “undiscussables.” Address the tough stuff directly. Acknowledge the unsaid.
  9. Clarify Expectations: Disclose and reveal expectations. Discuss them. Validate them. Renegotiate them if needed and possible.
  10. Practice Accountability: Hold yourself accountable. Hold others accountable. Take responsibility for results.
  11. Listen First: Listen before you speak. Understand. Diagnose. Listen with your ears…and your eyes and heart.
  12. Keep Commitments: Say what you’re going to do, then do it. Make commitments carefully and keep them at all costs.
  13. Extend Trust: Demonstrate a propensity to trust. Extend trust abundantly to those who have earned your trust. Extend trust conditionally to those who are earning your trust.
Mastering the 13 behaviors requires a combination of character and competence. You can (and should) work to improve your abilities in each of these areas. Focus on the ones you consider to be your weaknesses and take the attitude that you will improve. Building trust is not something that happens overnight. As Warren Buffet said: “It takes twenty years to build your reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”


Study these principles, then master them. Study Covey’s book and practice the principles he so eloquently teaches. Every aspect of your life will improve.

The Product Management Perspective: Trust is the most important characteristic a product manager can possess. To effectively work with development, sales and other teams in your organization you must gain their trust. Trust is key to understanding your customers and your market. Trust is a two-way street: you need to carry out your tasks in such a way that the team members will trust you. You also need to trust that the team members will do what they have committed to do. The 13 behaviors listed above provide an excellent roadmap to developing and extending trust with others.


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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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Book Review: The Right Leader

“How we go about doing the things we choose to do or are called upon to do is what makes a leader the right leader.” In his book The Right Leader: Selecting Executives Who Fit, author Nat Stoddard (with help from Claire Wyckoff) investigates the complex topic of assuring smooth executive transitions, with their primary focus at the CEO level. When a CEO does not work out for a company — which usually happens within the first 18 months — the primary reason is rarely the individual’s lack of competence; most often the problem is a result of the wrong fit.

The first section of the book focuses on finding executives who “fit” the organization. The author presents a methodology to define, measure and clarify corporate cultures to gain a clear understanding the impact they will have on a new leader’s changes for success or failure. He discusses ways to determine abilities, personality and character and map those to the company’s need and corporate culture. He develops what he calls the “universal character traits of leaders”:

Traits of personal humility: Courage, caring, compassion, respect, acceptance, kindness, optimism, gentleness, teachability and patience. He groups these as ‘private traits’ of leadership.

Traits of professional will: Integrity, persuasion, knowledge, communication, discipline, honesty, self-control, fairness, responsibility and consistency. He dubs these ‘public traits’ of leadership.

Mr. Stoddard shows how leaders not only need to possess these traits, but also keep them in balance.

The author discusses at length the complex selection methods and provides insight into fixing flawed selection processes. He discusses succession planning in detail and provides structure and practice for reducing the risks of leadership failures and ensuring that new executives have the abilities, personalities and energy to match the business needs of the organization.

If you are in the position of vetting candidates for top-level executive positions this book is a must-read. You will gain ideas and insights into finding the right leader for your organization and preparing for the complexities of succession planning. If you are not in this position, you will learn much about what it takes to become the right leader. The book cites many references to the author’s company and consulting services, which at times seems more self-serving than helpful. However, Mr. Stoddard’s experience and frequent metaphors and parables provide readers with much to learn about improving their leadership skills.

A Perl of wisdom: “The ‘right leader’ is always a trusted leader.” Whether you’re a CEO or an intern, you have the opportunity to lead. The efforts you make to become the trusted leader in your organization will pay dividends in the future regardless of the position you hold.


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Trust – the key to success

One of the five factors of leadership, the tag ‘trust’ has become a hallmark of the Lead on Purpose blog. The act of trusting others and trusting yourself is vital success.

The Speed of TrustYesterday I received a copy of The Speed of Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey. I had listened to a podcast and read positive reviews about the book, so I was happy to receive a copy. I say “receive” because a friend of mine gave me the book with a personalized autograph from the author. As I started looking through it the first thing I noticed was the large number of reviews. As I began reading them it didn’t take me long to realize the power of this book. The book has 11 pages of reviews by 65 well-known, successful people. Though I have not yet started reading the book, just reading the reviews provided great insight on trust. Following are a few reviews that stand out and provide significant food for thought:

“Trust reduces transaction costs; it reduces the need for litigation and speeds commerce; it actually lubricates organizations and societies. At last, someone is articulating its true value and presenting it as a core business competency.” —Marilyn Carlson Nelson

“Collaboration is the foundation of the standard of living we enjoy today. Trust is the glue. This is the first book that teaches the ‘whats’ and the ‘hows’ of trust.” —Ram Charan

“After you turn off the projector, quit PowerPoint, and end your pitch, most deals come down to a simple question: Do you trust each other? This book is a valuable and timely explanation of how to trust and be trusted.” —Guy Kawasiaki

“Good leaders know where they are going. Followers trust it’s the right direction. Without trust, you get nowhere.” —Jack Trout

“Everything in marketing points to the reality that the profitable companies are those that have earned the confidence of their public. Confidence cannot be overestimated.” —Jay Conrad Levinson

“If you want to speed forward to wealth, you have to have unconditional trust to maximize earnings. This great book will tell you how.” —Mark Victor Hansen

“Lack of trust within an organization saps its energy, fosters a climate of suspicion and second-guessing, completely devastates teamwork and replaces it with internal politics. The end result is low morale and the consequent low standards of performance.” —Koh Boon Hwee

“The most important element in any relationship, business or personal, is trust and credibility.” —Brian Tracy

“Why are you reading the blurbs in this book? Simple, because you trust (a few of) us. Trust drives everything in our nonbranded, too-fast world. So trust this: This is an important book. The younger Covey has written a book that matters.” —Seth Godin

Trust provides the foundation on which you build solid relationships. Trust is something we give, and something we receive. Trust tethers us to others with whom we can achieve success. I am eagerly looking forward to reading my copy of The Speed of Trust.


The Product Management Perspective: Trust is vital for product managers. The people they depend on for the success of their products do not (usually) report to them; therefore, product managers need to do everything in their power to gain the their trust and keep their confidence. Trust goes both ways: product managers need to carry out their tasks in such a way that the team members can trust them. They also need to trust that the team members will do what they have committed to do.


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Lead with integrity

One of the most important characteristics of leadership is integrity. Integrity is a “steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code.” It means you are true to your word in all you do and people can trust you because you do what you say.

The word integrity has deep meaning and is often intermingled with words like honesty and truthfulness. 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 consequences, is the hallmark of integrity.

Integrity builds character, which creates the foundation of great leadership. Coach John Wooden said it well: “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” Live with integrity; lead with integrity.