Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


Entrepreneurship as a Corporate Value

Guest post by Harrish Sairaman

Entrepreneurship is an important, integral part of modern corporate world. The entrepreneurs bring a different flavour to the companies in terms of expediting different values such as innovation, quality, trust, Ethics, Morals, Code of conduct,, adaptability to situation, personal integrity etc. to name a few.

Entrepreneurs not only contribute to the financial development of the firm, but also, they contribute heavily in the economy of the country as well. There are certain corporate values that the entrepreneurs bring to the world that can be explained as follows.

Entrepreneurship Continue reading


Managing conflict

“In a environment that is often fearful and ego-driven, she created a space where people could give up their worries and thrive.”

The word ‘conflict’ is used in so many ways that I’m conflicted as I try to make sense of it (ok, that was a ‘tongue-in-cheek for my good friend Jim Holland). For purposes of this post, ‘conflict’ is a mental struggle resulting from incompatible or opposing needs, drives, wishes or demands. It’s manifest in both internal and external ways; internal conflicts based on our beliefs and ethics, and external conflicts between individuals, groups or countries.

What if conflicts at home, conflicts at work, and conflicts in the world stem from the same root cause? What if we systematically misunderstood that cause? And what if, as a result, we unwittingly perpetuate the very problems we think we are trying to solve? The Arbinger Institute answers these important questions in the book The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict. The book teaches important principles through an intriguing story of parents who are struggling with their children and with problems that have come to consume their lives. We learn from once-bitter enemies the way to find peace whenever war is upon us. Yusaf al-Falah, and Arab, and Avi Rozen, a Jew, each lost his father at the hands of the other’s ethnic cousins. The Anatomy of Peace is the story of how they came together, how they help warring parents and children to come together, and how we too can find our way out of the struggles that we face.

Through its story the book lays out key principles that can help you resolve any conflict. It talks about decision points that play a critical role in avoiding conflict and helping us for healthy relationships with the important people in our lives. When we choose to act contrary to our sense of what is right, we commit what the book calls ‘self-betrayal,’ which leads us to do things to cover up our choices. Over time these choices can lead us to behaviors that are detrimental to some or all of our relationships.

When we make good choices we free ourselves from a “heart at war” where we see other people as objects that are either detrimental to us, or as things we can use for our own benefits. Good choices lead to a “heart at peace” where we see others as people with hopes, needs, cares and fears as real as our own. We focus on the good things that are happening in our lives and the people that are helping us.

“Lasting solutions to the battles in our workplaces, homes and battlefields will come only as we end the war in our souls.” The Anatomy of Peace goes into rich detail about the negative effects of conflict, and more importantly how we can resolve problems before they even start. The compelling story draws you in and helps you feel what the characters are feeling, from problems with children to conflicts with executives in the boardroom. You will benefit significantly from reading and understanding this book.

The Product Management Perspective: Product managers play a key role in the culture of the teams they work with. PMs have the power to resolve negative conflicts and lead their teams to a unity of purpose.

Conflicts will arise. Some will say that “conflict is good” for the process. I agree it’s healthy to get all the ideas out on the table, have spirited discussions about the opinions, and defend your data and experience. However, you should never let conflict into the process. In other words, treat others as people and respect their points of view.


Leadership and integrity

Integrity is one of the top attributes of a great leader. It is a concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations and outcomes. It connotes a deep commitment to do the right thing for the right reason, regardless of the circumstances. People who live with integrity are incorruptible and incapable of breaking the trust of those who have confided in them. Every human is born with a conscience and therefore the ability to know right from wrong. Choosing the right, regardless of the consequence, is the hallmark of integrity.

In his recent post 10 Mistakes Leaders Should Avoid at All Costs (on Michael Hyatt’s Intentional Leadership blog), Enrique Fiallo said the following about the importance of integrity in leadership:

There are many things you can lack and still steer clear of danger. Integrity isn’t one of them. Establish a set of sound ethics policies, integrate them into all business processes, communicate them broadly to all employees, and make clear that you will not tolerate any deviation from any of them. Then live by them.

The key that too many managers miss is “then live by them.” You cannot set policies that employees need to live by, and not live by them yourself. That will never work in the long run.

The book How Do You Kill 11 Million People? dives into the problems that leaders create when they lie to their people. Author Andy Andrews does a great job of describing the problems (often horrible and wide-spread) that come from a lack of integrity and character. He focuses primarily on the need for leaders to tell the truth and followers to recognize falsehoods and do something about them. “If you don’t know the truth, its absence can place you in bondage.”

Andrews thoughtfully promotes the long-term value of telling the truth, of being honest. Both tenets are key to living with integrity. He quotes Abraham Lincoln (probably the best known US president for having integrity) who promoted the importance of integrity and character in great leadership. Lincoln said: “Great leadership is a product of great character. And that is why character matters.”

I challenge all leaders to live and lead with integrity. You will not only benefit the people you lead, but also enjoy more peace in your personal life and experience greater success in your business endeavors.

The Product Management Perspective: To succeed as a product manager you must live with integrity. It’s crucial for product managers to build trust with the teams they work with and depend on. Trust grows through meaningful interaction with your teams and consistent application of proven principles. Developing trust and leading with integrity will increase the confidence others have in your work. When engineers, salespeople, marketers and others have confidence in their product managers, they will do amazing work.


Where to start

The following quote by Dee Hock, founder and CEO emeritus at Visa, is spot-on for anyone seeking to become a great leader:

Control is not leadership; management is not leadership; leadership is leadership. If you seek to lead, invest at least 50% of your time in leading yourself—your own purpose, ethics, principles, motivation, conduct. Invest at least 20% leading those with authority over you and 15% leading your peers.

When it comes to your career and your ability to become a great leader, the word ‘invest’ is perceptive. Invest in yourself; after all, you –your skills, talent, abilities, etc. — are the most valuable asset you own. Start with yourself.

The Product Management Perspective: Dee Hock’s quote nicely defines the product management perspective. Find ways to invest in yourself; everyone around you will benefit.


Ethics and family values

Would you ever think to associate a con man with one of the world’s most respected authorities on forgery, embezzlement and secure documents? Most of you have probably heard the story of Frank W. Abagnale, which was written in a book and later immortalized in a movie called Catch Me If You Can created by Steven Spielberg starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks. Both the book and the movie focus primarily on Frank’s life from age 16 through 21, the time he pulled off some incredibly illegal and unethical acts. The more amazing and inspiring story is what Frank did with his life after he served his time in prison.

You can hear Frank tell his own story (which differs somewhat from the movie) on the Live on Purpose Radio blog. In the next episode — Catching Frank Abagnale — you can listen to Dr. Paul interview Frank about his views on ethics, family and other important topics: “What [Frank] has done … can illuminate the principles that could bring some enormous power into your life if you are willing to be taught from his deep bank of experience.

Steven Spielberg said: “I did not immortalize Frank Abagnale on film because of what he did 40 years ago as a teenager; I immortalized him on film because of what he’s done for his country these past 30 years.” Some people tell Frank he was brilliant or a genius. He disagrees; had he been brilliant he would have found some other way to survive. He talks about his love for his parents and for his country. He tells how the love of his wife turned his life around. It’s an intriguing and inspiring story that is well worth listening to.