Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


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How leaders harness innovation to out think competitors

“We’ve entered a new era. Call it the age of imagination, ideation, conceptualization, creativity, innovation—take your pick. Creativity, mental flexibility, and collaboration have displaced one-dimensional intelligence and isolated determination as core ingredients of a competitive advantage.”

Out ThinkIn his book OUT THINK: How Innovative Leaders Drive Exceptional Outcomes, author Shawn Hunter synthesizes a set of what he calls “truths in emerging innovative leadership practices” that help companies generate value in the form of innovative products and services. The volatility of the current economy—which he calls ‘marketquake’—demands that organizations become agile in order to survive.

In the book, Hunter explains a series of ten processes that comprise the ‘Out Think’ journey:

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Are you an extreme leader?

“Extreme would not be extreme without fear. And fear would not be worth it without the love of the game.”

Are you an extreme leader? According to Steve Farber, author and business leadership expert, extreme leaders “approach the act of leadership as you’d approach an extreme sport: learn to love the fear and exhilaration that naturally comes with the territory.” To become an extreme leader you need to seek opportunities that will stretch you and ultimately cause fear. The fear defines the experiences that lead to extreme leadership.

To create the experiences that will strengthen your leadership, Farber recommend you take a Radical LEAP every day. LEAP is an acronym for the following: Continue reading


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Five factors to inspiring team members

We all know people who inspire us, who encourage us—through their actions and example—to work hard, to persevere through difficult circumstances. What’s their secret? How do they persuade others to do great things? While every circumstance is different, leaders find ways to inspire the people they lead.

Here are five factors[1] that, if understood and applied, will increase your ability to inspire your team members: […]


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What matters in 2010?

With just a few weeks left in 2009 you have no-doubt spent time thinking about the events of the past year and the growth and changes that have resulted.

What matters in 2010? Seth Godin, marketing guru and thought leader, did a cool project where he brought together more than seventy “big thinkers” to write the ebook What Matters Now. His purpose: “Now, more than ever, we need a different way of thinking, a useful way to focus and the energy to turn the game around.” Here are a few of the thought-provoking ideas:

“If you make a difference, people will gravitate to you. They want to engage, to interact and to get you more involved.” -Seth Godin

“Leadership is more than influence. It is about reminding people of what it is we are trying to build—and why it matters. It is about painting a picture of a better future. It comes down to pointing the way and saying, ‘C’mon. We can do this!'” –Michael Hyatt

“Here’s the final measure of your success as a speaker: did you change something? Are attendees leaving with a new idea, some new inspiration, perhaps a renewed commitment to their work or to the world?” –Mark Hurst

“The road to sustainability goes through a clear-eyed look at unsustainability.” –Alan M. Webber

“After a decade of truly spectacular underachievement, what we need now is less management and more freedom – fewer individual automatons and more autonomous individuals.” –Daniel H. Pink

“The future belongs to people who can spread ideas.” –Guy Kawasaki (read Guy’s ‘ten things to remember’)

“You can earn attention by creating something interesting and valuable and then publishing it online for free.” –David Meerman Scott

“You’re probably trying to change things at home or at work. Stop agonizing about what’s not working. Instead, ask yourself, ‘What’s working well, right now, and how can I do more of it?'” –Chip Heath & Dan Heath

“You grow (and thrive!) by doing what excites you and what scares you everyday, not by trying to find your passion.” –Derek Sivers

“Winning businesses have a common trait, an obvious and divisive point of view. Losing businesses also have a common trait, a boring personality alienating no one and thus, sparking passion from no one.” –John Moore

“My eyes have been opened to the value of regularly closing them.” –Arianna Huffington (on the value of sleep)

“The secret learned by technology providers is to spend less time providing services for citizens, and to spend more time providing services to developers…This is the right way to frame the question of ‘Government 2.0.’ How does government become an open platform that allows people inside and outside government to provide better services to each other?” –Tim O’Reilly

“Declare war on passivity. Hush the inner voice that insists you’re over the hill, past your prime, unworthy of attaining those dreams. Disbelief is now the enemy, as is the notion of settling. Get hungry — hyena hungry. Get fired up. Find your backbone, and your wings.” –J.C. Hutchins

Seth and his coauthors are trying to get five million downloads of the ebook. Help them out; you will be the beneficiary. Read Seth’s post about the ebook here.


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Guest Post: Talk is Cheap!

Make communication with employees your priority during times of economic adversity

By Albert J. Weatherhead

If you’re a business leader, you don’t have to confront tough economic times alone.  You have incredibly knowledgeable and highly motivated consultants at your beck and call.  These experts are chomping at the bit to help you emerge from the current economic adversity stronger and ready to hit the ground running when the economy brightens.

This consulting resource is none other than your employees – and it won’t cost you an extra cent to take advantage of their expertise and tap their limitless good will, because talk is cheap

All you have to do is ask!

Using communication and collaboration to overcome and transform adversity is a topic I cover extensively in my book, THE POWER OF ADVERSITY: Tough Times Can Make Your Stronger, Wiser, and Better.   And I can assure you that the advice I share with you today has stood the test of time…

It helped me inspire my Weatherchem team to create the original Flapper® dispensing closure. Over 150 companies, including Durkee, Cremora, San Giorgio, Ronzoni, and McCormick, now use the entire line of Flapper products, and Weatherchem continues to lead the industry in offering the widest, most innovative array of closure products.

This advice also worked for me almost 50 years ago, when, at the age of 30, I was working for my father at the Weatherhead Company, a manufacturer of military ordinance, automotive and aviation parts, and gas control devices and storage products…

Economic Adversity Builds Walls for You To Tear Down

It was 1960, and members of the AFL-UAW Local 463 union negotiation committee led by its president, John Allar, were threatening to strike the Weatherhead Company over a wages dispute.  We employed 600 people in a million square foot factory so vast that a railway track ran down the middle.

I said to Allar, “Rather than be at each other’s throats as we sink, let’s work together – collaborate – and figure out how we’re going to get out of this mess…”

In other words, I was ready to tear down the walls that separated the union and management, because I understood that we needed each other to survive.

Unfortunately, my gesture was rebuffed and the union decided to strike.

That first day, I made sure I was there by 6:00 AM, before the union pickets. They arrived to see me busy changing a flat tire on a truck.

“Oh, look, he’s finally doing some manual labor,” the union reps taunted, but I could see the look of respect in their eyes (and more important, in the eyes of the union rank and file setting up to walk the picket line).

I had captured their attention and interest, and primed them to communicate and collaborate with me.

What was my strategy?  One way or another, I was determined to turn the walls between us into a bridge that could span our differences. From that very first day, I walked that picket line with my striking employees, engaging them in conversation whenever I could.

My staff watching from the factory’s executive suite, was worried the picketers would take a baseball bat to me, but nobody did, because I kept them talking.

And yes…

Talk is cheap, but it is also invaluable in building trust between

management and employees when economic times are hard.

In the end, the strike was settled on the terms I established – because the union came to see that my terms were the right terms for our mutual success… and because I kept us talking.

Now let’s return to the present economic mess we’re in…

Concerning the auto industry debacle, do you understand why Congress had the top executives come to Washington to participate in hearings, but didn’t call in the car companies’ union negotiating committees to hear their side of things?

For that matter, why didn’t Congress have the smarts to invite a contingent of assembly line workers to share viewpoints from the factory floor? (Those hard-working, blue-collar folks would probably have put forth the most valuable testimony of all!)

Don’t you make the same mistake: Tear down the walls and talk to your employees.  Discover what’s running through their minds, and be sure to let them know what you’re thinking – and that you want their help because you’re all in the same boat.

Successful management – in a good economy or a bad one – is more like taking a pulse than taking inventory, because beyond all the mechanics of the place, every business is a collective human endeavor.

And what separates humankind from all the other creatures is our ability to talk, so always, always communicate with your employees.

Ask: How can we improve this place? What’s wrong here? I guarantee you will get more valuable information in just a few hours than you could possibly act upon in a year!

It worked for me half a century ago on the picket lines in front of my father’s company …

It worked far more recently to help me build Weatherchem into a multimillion-dollar manufacturing company that has provided me with the means to be a major philanthropist, endowing hospitals, universities, and charities that offer valuable help to thousands of people.

You too can leverage economic adversity to strengthen and revitalize your business so

that you’ll be well positioned when financial prosperity once again returns, which I’m confident it will.

Just remember… Talk may be cheap, but it’s also priceless when it comes to building camaraderie, respect, energy – and yes, even love – throughout your workplace, in both good times and bad.

Albert J. Weatherhead is the author of The Power Of Adversity and chairman and CEO of Weatherchem, a private manufacturer of plastic closures for food, spice, pharmaceutical and nutraceutical products.