Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

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Personal branding

I’m out camping in the mountains this week, far away from the connected world, so I “pre-loaded” my blogging gun with a link to a great post.

Today’s link comes from David Meerman Scott at Web Ink Now. David writes about Steve Cohen who positions himself as the “Millionaire’s Magician.” With his new positioning, Steve was able to raise his private fees by 2,000%. Amazing! David does a great job of describing Steve’s path to success in a way you can relate to and through which you can see yourself achieving success in your niche. Read David’s post Positioning magic at the top end of the market. The video about Steve is also well worth watching.


Create value for others

If you want to succeed, create value for other people. This principle has been taught by many leadership gurus and success coaches for decades.

My friend Dr. Paul discusses the concept of creating value for others in a recent podcast episode. If you get really clear about what you love and what you do well, and you share it with others and create value for them, it will come back to you. Here’s a short clip from that interview that illustrates this point:

Another great example of creating value for others is Chris Brogan. Chris has one of the most popular blogs on the Internet, and a tremendous following on Twitter. In an recent post by another great example of creating value — David Meerman Scott — Chris shares one of the secrets to his success: “the number one thing I do with both Twitter and blogging is I’m helpful.” He finds information that’s useful to his readers/followers. He asks questions and engages people in his conversations. Chris focuses on helping others, and in doing so increases his brand and his value. Check out the interview on David’s blog.

This concept is not a secret. It’s not magic. It’s not only available to really popular people like Chris, David or Dr. Paul. Creating value for others is a principle that works if you go about it with the real intent to help others. Make it real and you will lose yourself in the fun of creating value for others.

The Product Management Perspective: As a product manager you create value for customers through creating great products. You create value for your teams by providing requirements they understand and a product direction they trust. To the extent you focus on helping others with whom you associate, you will help yourself.


Spreading your ideas — World Wide Rave

How do you spread your ideas and get people truly excited about buying your products and services? In his new book World Wide Rave, David Meerman Scott tells us how to start a movement and create ideas that spread. Here are the Rules of the Rave:

  • Nobody cares about your products (except you)
  • No coercion required
  • Lose control
  • Put down roots
  • Create triggers that encourage people to share
  • Point the world to your (virtual) doorstep

“You can trigger a World Wide Rave too — just create something valuable that people want to share and make it easy for them to do so.”

Without explicitly stating it, David demonstrates these ideas in a recent post. His books, videos and ebooks provide vehicles for spreading his ideas. Take a look at the video David created for his book launch:

How are you spreading your ideas?

Bonus: Can you find me in David’s video? (Hint: look for triggers)

The Product Management Perspective: David’s work (books, videos, ebooks, blogs, etc.) demonstrate many great methods to spreading ideas and inviting people to fall in love with your products. If your marketing teams are not using viral marketing and World Wide Raves, do your company a favor and spread these ideas internally, then work with your teams to spread your ideas to the world.


The LOVE of leadership: Observe

As discussed in a previous post, it might make some uncomfortable to use the word ‘love’ in the context of leadership. However, the practice of love in the context of leadership is both powerful and necessary. Steve Farber describes this clearly in his audio book Extreme Leadership: In Pursuit of the OS!M. What does it mean to love the people you lead? My definition for the acronym LOVE embodies the actions necessary to cultivate positive behaviors that lead to successful results, and includes the following actions:

  • L – Listen
  • O – Observe
  • V – Value
  • E – Experience

tuned-in2A key to success in any vocation is gaining deep insight into the market(s) you are serving. Product managers and marketers know the importance of understanding their market. In their book Tuned In, authors Craig Stull, Phil Myers and David Meerman Scott offer the following advice:

Product managers, executives, and marketers regularly meet with people in the marketplace and observe how those people do business or go about their lives. These observations provide insight into the full scope of the problems and the usage requirements and significant obstacles to adoption of any proposed solution. The most important thing they do is to live in and observe the prospect’s world.” (Emphasis added)

In the context of leadership, you want to gain a deep insight into the people you serve. Observing behaviors and actions leads to understanding. These observations come during meetings, at events, and by spending time one-on-one with the people in your organization. A tight correlation exists between listening and observing. As a leader, the two actions combine to strengthen relationships and build trust among those whom you lead. When you observe others, practice the following actions:

  • Learn specifics: Watch how people act. Determine why they do certain things in a given circumstance. Learn as much as you can about what drives people to the successful behaviors promoted by your organization. The more you learn the better prepared you are to increase success.
  • Show intent: Be honest in your desires to learn about the people you serve. The last thing you want is for anyone to think you have ulterior motives. Fix in your mind the end goal of truly understanding the people and let that behavior show through during your discovery process.
  • Develop trust: Take action that will show others you mean what you say. Encourage them to share their feelings and ideas and show genuine interest in who they are and what they believe in. Show confidence in their ability to do what they say. Be true to your words so they will trust what you say and what you do.

Successfully observing others and understanding what drives them will require effort. Your love and appreciation for them will increase, your organizational effectiveness will increase, and your bottom line will grow.

The Product Management Perspective: Product managers need to love their customers. One of the best ways to understand what motivates customers is to observe how they use your products. Watch what they do, listen to what they say and use that information to improve your products. Remember this great advice from Greg Strouse: don’t fall in love with your products or technology. Love your customers and what you can do to help them succeed.


Seeing the positive outcome

An important aspect to success is the ability to envision the outcome. People who accomplish great things see themselves winning the game, closing the deal, getting the standing ovation, long before it ever happens. For some this concept seems weird and for many others it seems downright irrational. However, many people have proven it to be true and have given evidence to back their claims.

In the midst of an economic downturn people are looking for hope and evidence that things will turn out right. The tendency is to hunker down and act conservatively until things pick back up. In a recent post, Dr. Paul addresses this topic with a succinct (and famous) quote by Earl Nightingale: “You become what you think about.” Obviously your thinking cannot magically change the economy or make customers start buying more, yet the act of focusing on the intended outcome causes you to look at things differently. You begin to see opportunities in ways you had not seen before. Seeing the positive outcome is especially important for leaders. They must focus on doing the right things for their employees and customers, and foresee their organizations making it through the downturn and rising to new heights on the other side.

A note to those who are looking for employment, struggling to get new business or otherwise anxious about your current (personal) situation: take the time to map out what you want to achieve and then see yourself achieving it. David Meerman Scott wrote a recent post on how the old rules of finding a job do not work in today’s market. He wrote a post two days later with specific examples of how using the New Rules are working to help people land new jobs in a tough economy. I HIGHLY recommend these posts for anyone looking for work. Study what he writes, take action and see yourself succeeding.

The Product Management Perspective: Product managers have to churn out products with resources from teams they do not control. Their ability to inspire team members to do their work effectively is key. Look ahead with optimism and work hard to help others catch the vision.