Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


Leadership and learning

A recent post on the HubSpot blog, Rick Burns suggests the most important internet marketing skill is learning. Rick makes a point that no one is an internet marketing expert yet, but the ones who are trying and learning along the way are quickly becoming the experts.

Leadership and Learning

If you were to choose the most important characteristic or aspect of leadership, what would it be? Is it possible to determine the (single) most important aspect of leadership? The answers to these questions will no doubt differ from one person to another, and from one leadership guru to another. However, like Rick points out in the context of internet marketing, one thing that seems to be a common trait in great leaders, regardless of the time or place they have lived, is a penchant for learning.

The pace of progress in the world today requires that leaders be learners. The following quote by Eric Hoffer speaks volumes: “In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.”

The salient idea in Ricks post is the importance of not being afraid to make mistakes. Becoming a leader does not happen over night. You will make mistakes along the way; everyone does. The key to your progress is losing the fear of making mistakes. Success requires making mistakes. According to Conrad Hilton, “Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.” Persistence is the key to leadership.

The Product Management Perspective: The subject of learning should course through every product manager’s agenda.  Just when you think you understand a market or a product or a buyer persona, it changes. To keep up with the evolution of product management, you need to understand where it’s at and where it’s headed. Read blogs, books and magazines. Make it a point to be a learner. Talk to your teams about what you are learning; you will gain respect and be seen as the leader.

Image: Courtesy of Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics

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Marketing and the Olympics

I, like many of you I’m sure, have been both captivated and distracted by the 2008 Summer Olympics. I’ve found it difficult during the past several days to focus during my “prime” blogging time because of all the great athletic events going on Beijing (check out this clever video clip for proper pronunciation). There’s just nothing like Olympic competition.

I’ve been trying to find a good way to relate the Olympic games to leadership and product management. I was pleased to find a post on Hubspot by Colleen Coyne — 8 Marketing Tips from an Olympic Gold Medalist. Colleen won a gold medal in the 1998 games and is now an inbound marketing consultant. She compares the work involved in successful marketing with the work it takes to train for Olympic events; she applies eight specific tips she learned while training for her event to marketing. She gives the following tips:

  1. Don’t train harder, train smarter
  2. Success is a decision
  3. Plan the work
  4. Work the plan
  5. Be in position to be in position
  6. Nobody cares what you want, they care what you do
  7. Hang out with & watch the pros
  8. If you are not getting better, you’re getting worse.

I recommend you read Colleen’s post to get the full content of her comparisons.