Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

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Effective leadership

This week’s posts on Lead on Purpose have been highly influenced by Steve Farber and his work in leadership. I had the honor of interviewing Steve on the Product Management Pulse yesterday. The conversation focuses on two areas:

  1. Extreme Leadership (“otherwise known as ‘real’ leadership”) and its odd mixture of fear and exhilaration. If the only reason you can think of to not do something is because it’s scary, that’s an indication that you should do it.
  2. Greater Than Yourself, Steve’s new leadership book. As leaders it’s your job to not just be helpful but to lift others above yourself. We discuss the three tenets of Greater Than Yourself:
  • Expand yourself
  • Give yourself
  • Replicate yourself

Steve gives excellent advice on becoming a great leader. Click below and enjoy the podcast:


The LOVE of leadership

The English word ‘love’ has at least four different meanings: strong affection, warm attachment, attraction based on sexual feelings and a score of zero in tennis. Compared to many other languages, the English word ‘love’ is passive. The Greek word agapé (noun) describes a more unconditional love rooted in behavior toward others without regard to their due; more action-based than the English word. The Greek definition most closely describes the feelings and actions leaders engage in; the other meanings can no doubt be pursued on other blogs.

It might seem odd to speak of love in the context of leadership. However, if you have ever read or listened to any of the works of Steve Farber you will understand the connection. Several years back Steve released an audio book called Extreme Leadership: In Pursuit of the OS!M. In this excellent recording Steve delves into the details of what it means to be a leader. He describes extreme leadership as “the dynamic interplay of fear and love, two of the most powerful forces in the human experience.” Extreme leadership is something you choose on purpose, with the intent of accomplishing something beyond what most people are willing to do. As you consider the word love in this context you will come to appreciate its importance to leadership.

What does it mean to love the people you lead? What are the behaviors or actions you should practice to bring out the best in the people you lead? After listening to Steve’s Extreme Leadership and contemplating what I have observed in leaders, I developed an acronym that embodies the actions necessary to cultivate positive behaviors that lead to successful results. These concepts are not new but are hopefully organized in a way that will be easy to remember and use in your daily activities. The acronym LOVE stands for the following actions:

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

These attributes promote a healthy environment and motivate people to their best and most productive activities.

Rather than writing an extremely long blog post to address these actions thoroughly, I will deal with each individually in upcoming posts, and will include the links to each post here. Please leave your comments and let me know the attributes you have seen in great leaders.


The LOVE of leadership: Listen

The LOVE of leadership: Observe

The LOVE of leadership: Value

The LOVE of Leadership: Experience

The Product Management Perspective: Product managers need to love their team and customers. Sure, it sounds weird, but in the context of the way love is described above, it makes perfect sense. You need to spend time with the people in development, sales, operations and other groups that share responsibility for the success of your products. You need to value your customers, work to understand their needs and anticipate their future buying habits (this applies to non-customers as well). The efforts you put forth and the actions you take will send a strong message to others about who you really are as the product manager and how you feel about them.


Leadership and vision

The word vision has several meanings and is used in many different contexts. Even within the context of leadership you will find varying meanings; things like goals, objectives, mission statements and motivation to name a few. While they are all important and have meaning in their particular contexts, the foresight of leaders might be among the most important combination of leadership and vision.

Steve Farber released an audio CD set — called Extreme Leadership — that is packed with great information about taking leadership to a higher level. Referring to leadership and vision he states: “the role of the leader is to make the vision meaningful.” Companies can have a ‘vision’ or a vision statement, but if it’s not meaningful to the people it will fall flat. To truly provide a vision for the company (or organization), the leaders need to understand, communicate and instill a sense of what’s important: to the company, to the customers, to the employees, to the company leadership. Steve says: “Real leaders take us to places we’ve never been, turn nothing into something, transform good into great, help us grow as human beings and change the pieces of the world that they touch for the better.” It has to be real and true; flattery or insincerity will not fly.

The Product Management Perspective: Leaders make decisions regularly. Successful product managers understand their markets and provide the foresight and direction for their products. They accept the responsibility to make tough decisions and communicate them effectively. They make choices and stand behind them. Ultimately they create a vision that leads their teams and their products to succeed.