Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

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Successful personas

A common practice in marketing and product management (and other disciplines) is to create personas to capture behaviors, patterns, goals, skills, attitudes and environment of people. The personas — though fictitious in nature — represent potential buyers and users of their products; they guide professionals to design the right products for the right people at the right time.

Personas can also be useful in helping you map your own behaviors and attitudes. How do you react when facing difficult situations? What behavior patterns or attitudes drive your behavior? What qualities do you look for in the persona you wish to emulate? People who thrive in difficult times tend to pursue one of at least two persona types:

The Adapter: The term ‘adapter’ describes a person who is willing to change with the  times and meet the difficulties that come. As an adapter you do not shy away from difficulties, but face them head-on and find ways to persevere and progress. You do not hold on to old habits or tools that worked last year but are not applicable now. In a recent post on moving forward in tough times, the legendary businessman Donald Trump makes the following observation:
Innovation is the key to finding successful opportunities in a recession. While no one wants to build success on the misfortune of others, opportunities to improve a process, start a new trend or re-invent the wheel are everywhere. In fact, some of the most well known brands in the globe were founded during hard times.

Adapters find new ways to succeed and they bring others with them on the journey.

The Persistent: The persistent person continues forward regardless of the difficulties he or she faces. You know you are persistent when you do not give up in any given situation. You may need to change course or do things differently than you had anticipated; however, you press forward with a firm conviction that what you are doing will achieve the results for which you embarked.

Though the adapter and the persistent may seem somewhat contradictory attributes for a persona, they actually are supportive and complimentary. Adapting as you persist is key to progress and success. The ability to move consistently through life’s roadblocks develops common people into leaders.

The Product Management Perspective: As product managers you are accustomed to using personas for the users involved with your products and services. You should also model your own leadership behaviors with personas whom you want to emulate.