Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


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The determination to do

One of the interesting things I’ve found about life—all aspects of life—is that it keeps moving forward, it keeps changing. Every day brings something new, something different.

When you get past the fear that holds you back and find the courage to move forward, the work is not done. You must keep moving forward. To get where you want to go, you need to have the determination to do.

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Leadership that stands the test of time

You know for sure whether leadership ideas and practices work by how long they last. The new ideas we come up with today will take time to prove themselves—that’s the tricky part.

One of the great leaders of the past—whose teachings and ideas have held strong for more than 150 years—is Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States. He was an uncharacteristic leader for his time, perhaps even more so for our time, and yet his principles and teachings on leadership have withstood the test of time.

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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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The spirit of determination

US President Abraham Lincoln was an excellent example of determination. Though he lost businesses and fought bankruptcy, he never quit. Though he lost many elections, he never lost sight of his goal of becoming president. Though he was adamantly opposed by many, he stuck to his principles and lead the country through a tremendously difficult time. He was a man of integrity. He never gave up. He persevered. He showed extreme resolve.

I honor Abraham Lincoln on his 200th birthday. The following are a few of my favorite quotes attributed to Honest Abe:

“Things may come to those who wait, but only what’s left behind by those that hustle.”

“Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it.”

“Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.”

“Perhaps a man’s character was like a tree, and his reputation like its shadow; the shadow is what we think of it, the tree is the real thing.”

“Leave nothing for tomorrow which can be done today.”


The Product Management Perspective: As a product manager, your determination to work effectively with other members of your team will make all the difference.