Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

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Why you need a Life Plan

To reach a port we must sail, sometimes with the wind, and sometimes against it. But we must not drift or lie at anchor.

—Oliver Wendell Holmes

Are you drifting in your career or your life? Do you have unmet goals or life-long aspirations you’ve failed to achieve? If so you’re not alone. You know where you want to end up, but why is so difficult to get there?


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How to deal with change effectively

Guest post by Matt Driscoll

ORtCPhoto courtesy of Shutter Stock

Change has long been considered vital for businesses, which need to keep adapting to the times or risk being left behind in their respective industries. While it’s easy to accept that change is necessary, though, it’s not easy to implement across an entire organisation without issues being raised or problems being encountered. One of the best ways of introducing changes to an organisation is to ensure that different teams, departments and stakeholders are ready to embrace the proposed changes. Continue reading


Guest Post: How non-leaders can lead

By Peter Davey

John C Maxwell defined leadership when he said, “The true measure of leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less.”Maxwell has correctly identified that leadership is not just about traits, position, personality and experience; it’s more about having an ability to influence people by maintaining integrity and trustworthiness.

If you want to further understand John Maxwell’s viewpoint on this, you’ll probably need to look at what types of behavior are most commonly associated with effective leadership. As you attempt to answer that question, you suddenly realize that the behavioral skills that even the most effective leaders possess are very common in non-leaders as well. For non-leaders, these are behaviors that will help to build or enhance their personal leadership skills and will ultimately assist in helping to produce clear, tangible results for the business.

So what are the behaviors that can potentially turn a non-leader into an effective leader?

Displaying a positive mental attitude. A positive mental attitude creates a mindset of abundance, enthusiasm, and solutions. Instead of thinking about what can’t be done, a positive thinker will not be constrained by ‘can’ and ‘cannot.’ A positive thinker is free to think of new ways to solve problems because they are not limited by fear of failure. Attitudes are contagious.

Encourage others. Encouragement is the skill of an effective leader. Show your belief in others. Look for opportunities to give them positive/constructive feedback. By encouraging others, you are not only helping to improve your relationship with them, but you may also be helping them to achieve something great.

Listen more, talk less. The simple key to working well with others is to listen more and talk less. When we listen, we can learn about the other person’s motivations. When we understand those, we are in a better position to guide and influence them. A useful way to remember the proportion of listening to speaking is to remember that you have two ears and one mouth. Quite simply, you should listen twice as much as you speak.

Engage with others. Engaging with others is not just about engaging with those who share your values and beliefs (the like-minded), but also about engaging with those who think differently from you and are doing something that may seem completely different and unrelated. Do not be afraid to engage across diversity, for that is how you will learn.

Be a great follower. Since leadership is an activity and not a role, recognize that you won’t always be leading; you must be willing and able to follow others too.  Developing this as a conscious practice will help you build your relationships; more importantly, it will allow you to observe others as they lead. Being a good follower will involve keeping your manager informed, always supporting your manager behind their backs, embracing change, bringing solutions (not problems) to your manager, admitting your mistakes, being a team player and being the eternal optimist.

Embrace a learning culture. Being effective requires us to continually learn and develop ourselves.  In doing this, we can become a positive role model for others, helping them see the importance of learning as well.

Continually develop your communication skills. Good communication skills require a high level of self-awareness. By understanding your personal style of communicating, you will go a long way towards creating a good and lasting impression with others.

Irrespective of your own status, when you consistently display the right behavioral skills, you are building and maintaining integrity and trustworthiness. You are in effect, building a strong capability to influence others by having people listen to your ideas, valuing or following your suggestions for action, and turning to you for guidance or advice.

Peter Davey is a Senior Trainer for a UK-based management training provider and consultancy. t2 Management Training offer leadership and management training to all types of managers – from team leaders to Directors and CEOs – and work with some of the biggest companies in the country.

The Product Management Perspective: Many of the behaviors described here are key to successful product management. Product managers need to keep a positive attitude and encourage their teams to work hard and work effectively. They need to listen to the market and learn what makes potential buyers want to buy their products. They need to communicate effectively, both inside and outside the company. Perhaps most important, product managers need to be learners.

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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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Leadership and gratitude

An important aspect of successfully leading people is showing gratitude for who they are and what they do. Gratitude connotes a positive emotion or attitude in acknowledgment of a benefit you have received or will receive. It is recognizing the good things in your life and acknowledging those who helped you achieve them. Gratitude also implies helping others achieve their goals.

Why practice gratitude in leadership?

  • Gratitude develops success: Your success ultimately hinges on collaboration with others. Having gratitude for those who help you become successful influences them to do more to help your cause.
  • Gratitude opens doors: Opportunities often arrive from unexpected sources. Leaders who show appreciation draw the interest of those with whom they come in contact, and they attract other leaders who will help them become more successful.
  • Gratitude produces peace: Having a thankful attitude for your blessings inspires internal peace. The lack of internal conflict (within yourself and within your organization) frees you to pursue high-value activities that will more quickly lead you to success.
  • Gratitude increases trust: When you show others you value their hard work and contributions, their trust in your leadership and direction increases.

Show gratitude to others — through your leadership — and they will help you to succeed. At face value this may seem too simplistic; however, if you think about the people who have helped you get to where you are today, I’m sure you will feel grateful for what they have done. Always show an attitude of gratitude.

This post was inspired by the talk Finding Joy in the Journey by Thomas S. Monson, president of the LDS Church.

The Product Management Perspective: Product managers have an often difficult task of motivating their teams (you know, the people who are responsible for a successful product release and also do not report to you) to work quickly and effectively to release quality products. Showing gratitude towards the people who are responsible for your success is not only the right thing, but also the smart thing to do.