Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

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Embrace, then apply

What was the last training or career development session you attended? How long did it take to put into practice the things you learned? Conversely, how long did it take to forget the details of the information conveyed in the training?

No matter how good a training session or how compelling the information conveyed, if you do not apply what you have learned the value will be lost. The concept of embrace, then apply is critical to the practical application of any training or educational programs. To convince participants to embrace the ideas taught in a training session, the instructor has to deliver compelling content that is applicable to their daily lives. The presenter must establish credibility with the attendees and deliver the content effectively, thus creating a need for them to adopt it.

Once participants have embraced the concepts taught they need to apply them to their work; the more quickly the better. If possible the company or people responsible for the training should have a follow-up mechanism through which they can provide additional services and direction. Many companies are skilled at delivering compelling training, but lack the resources or abilities to help their customers implement the training they have received. In such cases the participants are left to their own to implement what they have learned or to find another company/person who can help them implement it. Helping others implement what they have learned presents a great opportunity for individuals and services companies to increase the value of their training.

The Product Management Perspective: Product managers play a key role in helping their teams to embrace product vision and direction. In many cases they also have to help executives do the same. They must learn to present their roadmaps with passion and work to convince their teams they are headed in the right direction. When the teams are on board they will apply their efforts to creating and launching successful products.

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Three steps to the next big opportunity

One of the keys to career progress (advancement) is identifying and taking advantage of new opportunities. Most of the time the new opportunities are not obvious; after all, when things become obvious they are usually past the “opportunity” stage. The crucial habit for progress is watching, learning and becoming aware of trends and changes going on around you. Here are three steps to help you prepare yourself for the next big opportunity:

  • Demonstrate flexibility: The word ‘flexible’ has various meanings; in this context think of ‘willingness.’ Be the person at your company who is willing to do new things, like taking on the project that nobody wants. Don’t balk when things don’t go the way you want them to go.
  • Get out of your comfort zone: Face it, progress never comes without some level of discomfort. Look for ways you can improve your skills in new areas. Think of something you never would have considered and do it; even if it’s riding a bull.
  • Work with people: The only way to progress in this life is to work with other people. The teams that have people who work together win. Even in so-called “individual sports” such as running, race car driving or gymnastics, the athletes depend on many other people for their success. Be open and humble enough to learn from other people, and be willing to help others any way you can.

At the end of the day (or week, month or year) you are responsible for your progress. You need to take the steps. You will surely find many along the way who are willing to help you; take advantage. But don’t wait for them to bring success to you; that will never happen. Make the effort; take the steps.

The Product Management Perspective: The ideas for this post came from a question posed to me about how an engineer can become a product manager. Following these three things will help you progress from your work as an engineer (or support or SE or any other job) to becoming a successful product manager. And for you who are product managers, look for people who are trying to make the shift and reach out and help them. You’ll find satisfaction in knowing you helped someone else, and doing so will benefit your career.