Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


Leave a comment

How leaders navigate change

We live in a fast-paced world. Things are changing around us at such a fast a rate it’s difficult to keep up. There are so many factors that come into play in the ever-changing world.

What is a leader’s role in navigating the changes? How can the leader deal with the ebbs and flows? What should you focus on to help your teams work more effectively?

pendulum Continue reading


3 Comments

Why great leaders are learners

Learning is one of the key tenets of leadership. Great leaders are learners. They read voraciously. They write and teach what they learn. Learning is as much a part of their life as eating.

Learning is key to coming up with new ideas that will improve your business and ensure success. Learning is the key to growth. Leaders who are learners ‘raise the tide’ for everyone around them. Learning is key to progress.

Learning Continue reading


1 Comment

Heart, Soul, and Intuition in Leadership

Guest post by John Daily

Stepping up to the plate in a business or office setting takes more than knowledge of how to run the organization. To become an effective leader and direct a successful enterprise, heart, soul and intuition are key traits you should have. With passion, wisdom and drive, a leader can effectively direct a workforce and turn it from a simple office to a goldmine in an instant. If you are planning to create and lead your own small business, pay attention to communication. If you are expecting a promotion soon, here are some tips and tricks you should keep in mind.

It is a fact that leading a company isn’t easy or simple, guaranteeing business continuity and success is an entirely different topic altogether. It is also reality that creating and leading a company takes labor-intensive work and time-consuming responsibilities. While the pay grade doesn’t significantly increase along your leadership promotion, there are a lot of benefits entailed from being a leader, which exceeds that of mere financial merits. There are a range of things to oversee and accomplish within your enterprise, a number of workers and staff to manage, and a huge amount of tasks and responsibilities to complete.

One tip to perform your leadership roles correctly is to be a positive leader. This tip is not only applicable for a particular business but rather for all kinds of employment you work in and for any role you step as. It is normal for any type of work to have its own up and down days, yet a business leader should be capable of overseeing anything and everything at a positive insight during all times. An issue invariably has a solution and a mistake always has a lesson you can pick up. Business leaders with positive outlook are capable of withstanding any challenges much more professional and effective since they don’t let minor issues and problems ruin their concentration on the job. Rather than blundering in stress and frustration over a deal or contract that went wrong, an effective business leader at heart should not let feelings and emotions control them and their decisions.

Another tip is to recruit the best staff. It is true of how great friends and people around you can affect your life in a positive way. This belief goes the same way for businesses. Surround yourself with great employees and professional workers, and your output can significantly improve. Employees contribute greatly to the advancements and achievements of any enterprise or workforce. This makes it necessary to look for the best kind of staff to work with everyday. While the decisions you make for sourcing out staffing members are short term, the effects can definitely affect your business for the long-term. Devising an effective employment screening process that involves thorough background checks, criminal record checks, and several interviews can help you separate the good employees from the bad ones.

Third tip is to develop a positive and lucrative working medium. Acting as a business leader, you must know that encouraging great workers and keeping them well satisfied in working everyday is just as essential as looking for the right workers. Motivate yourself as well as your workforce by providing them with a conducive working environment coupled with occasional compensation and incentives to show your appreciation for their efforts and a job well done. Other means of maintaining workforce satisfaction is by organizing recreational activities that put you and your employees away from the busy and stressful work lifestyle you are used to. You can also direct seminars and lectures to enhance knowledge and skills as well as provide treats, such as coupons and discounts at retail stores and restaurants.

John Dailey is a small business owner who tries to treat his employees as friends. As a small business owner, he realizes that knowing the history of his employees is important. That is why he checks out backgroundcheck.org when hiring employees.


The Product Management Perspective: As a product manager you may not get a say in recruiting staff and establishing a positive working environment; however, you have a great opportunity to be a positive leader among your peers. Take a positive attitude to work every day and use it to your advantage to inspire the teams you work with to build great products.


1 Comment

Creating value in 2011

Every New Year brings new opportunities. Something about turning over the calendar causes people to take a hard look at what they can do to improve on their current situation. Ultimately, we all want to create more value — for ourselves, for the organizations we associate with and for the people we care about. 

The word value has many meanings. The one most applicable to this discussion is “relative worth, merit or importance.” The more we improve in these areas, the more value we create. Our efforts will build over time and improve our self-confidence. Now that we’re off and running in 2011, let’s explore a few ways to increase our value:

  • Improve skills and knowledge: Instead of hunkering down and running below the radar, take specific actions to improve your skills. Look for opportunities for training. Read books. Read blogs. Make an effort to learn new skills and practice them as much as you can in your current job. Remember these cogent words of Eric Hoffer: “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.”
  • Help others: One of the best antidotes to self-pity and fear is to help other people. When you make the effort to assist someone else to become better at what they do, you become better yourself. When you help others your confidence grows and you increase your value to those around you.
  • Develop trust: People naturally want to surround themselves with people they trust. Developing trust takes time and consistent effort. Trust goes two ways: you need to behave in such a way that people will trust you will do what you say. And equally important, you need to trust others. Developing relationships of trust increases your value.
  • Believe in yourself: As your skills increase, you gain more confidence; you begin to understand your significance to your organization. Trials and difficult circumstances can diminish these feelings, but they should not. Believing in yourself, your skills, and your ability to succeed — without becoming arrogant — is a good thing. Confidence is key. Never forget the people who have helped you increase your value along the way.
  • Work yourself out of the job: This one may not make sense at face value. If you work yourself out of the current job, what will you do? The idea is to work effectively and close the loop on what you are doing. Think in terms of projects: each one has a beginning and an end. You plan what you are going to do, work at it and when it’s finished you move on to the next project. When your project is successful, it’s easier to land the next project. Jobs are the same way. Make your work so effective and make it run so well that anyone could step in and take over. As you do that you will automatically make yourself more valuable to your company, and they will have no choice but to promote you or find something more challenging for you to do.
If you’ve been hunkered down over the past year, don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone in 2011. Let’s get out there and create value!


The Product Management Perspective: Jim Holland has a great article about making 2011 the year of product management. As a product manager you are in a unique position to create value. The PM role lends itself to working with many people in different parts of the company and with customers and others external to the organization. Practicing the five actions listed above will increase your value to your company and accelerate your career growth. And when you work yourself out of the product management position, perhaps you’ll find yourself in an executive seat.


1 Comment

Book Review: The Right Leader

“How we go about doing the things we choose to do or are called upon to do is what makes a leader the right leader.” In his book The Right Leader: Selecting Executives Who Fit, author Nat Stoddard (with help from Claire Wyckoff) investigates the complex topic of assuring smooth executive transitions, with their primary focus at the CEO level. When a CEO does not work out for a company — which usually happens within the first 18 months — the primary reason is rarely the individual’s lack of competence; most often the problem is a result of the wrong fit.

The first section of the book focuses on finding executives who “fit” the organization. The author presents a methodology to define, measure and clarify corporate cultures to gain a clear understanding the impact they will have on a new leader’s changes for success or failure. He discusses ways to determine abilities, personality and character and map those to the company’s need and corporate culture. He develops what he calls the “universal character traits of leaders”:

Traits of personal humility: Courage, caring, compassion, respect, acceptance, kindness, optimism, gentleness, teachability and patience. He groups these as ‘private traits’ of leadership.

Traits of professional will: Integrity, persuasion, knowledge, communication, discipline, honesty, self-control, fairness, responsibility and consistency. He dubs these ‘public traits’ of leadership.

Mr. Stoddard shows how leaders not only need to possess these traits, but also keep them in balance.

The author discusses at length the complex selection methods and provides insight into fixing flawed selection processes. He discusses succession planning in detail and provides structure and practice for reducing the risks of leadership failures and ensuring that new executives have the abilities, personalities and energy to match the business needs of the organization.

If you are in the position of vetting candidates for top-level executive positions this book is a must-read. You will gain ideas and insights into finding the right leader for your organization and preparing for the complexities of succession planning. If you are not in this position, you will learn much about what it takes to become the right leader. The book cites many references to the author’s company and consulting services, which at times seems more self-serving than helpful. However, Mr. Stoddard’s experience and frequent metaphors and parables provide readers with much to learn about improving their leadership skills.

A Perl of wisdom: “The ‘right leader’ is always a trusted leader.” Whether you’re a CEO or an intern, you have the opportunity to lead. The efforts you make to become the trusted leader in your organization will pay dividends in the future regardless of the position you hold.


3 Comments

The LOVE of leadership: Experience

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:

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

The word experience functions as both a noun an a transitive verb. Among the noun definitions is: direct observation of or participation in events as a basis of knowledge. The verb definition includes: to learn by experience. Both emphasize the need to engage in the activities and efforts of others. They imply action. The act of experiencing connotes an exertion of effort on the part of the leader to work on a level that the people they lead (or manage) will see them functioning at their level. This will help them gain confidence in the motives that drive their leader.

Trust is a key factor of success in every organization. As a leader you need to conduct yourself in a way that the people whom you lead will trust you. By the same token, you need to trust the people you lead to do what they say they will do. As you experience their work you will gain insight into what motivates them to do great things and they will trust you and discern your integrity.

practical-lessons-in-leadership1Leaders who spend time with their people get to know their them on a deeper level. This goes both ways. In their book Practical Lessons in Leadership, the authors Art Petty and Rich Petro provide excellent insight into what attributes make a great leader. Among the most important is getting to know your team. You come to know what your people want. They start seeing you as someone who cares about their ideas and careers. They want to work for you and will give their best effort.

Noting that many managers do a lousy job of spending time with their associates, Petty and Petro point out the importance getting to know them:

Nothing is more important (after understanding your mission) than providing quality time to your associates in both group and one-on-one settings. Your willingness to meet with your team and to invest your time in listening to their ideas, issues and concerns is an important tool for building your leadership credibility. The perception that ‘you care’ is powerful and priceless (p. 80).

Your ability to experience ‘a day in the life of’ the people you lead will differ depending on the size of your organization. In large organizations the CEO cannot meet with and know every employee. However, with new technology and honest effort, leaders can communicate their concern and connect with everyone who works for them.

Take action to experience life on the floor or in the cubicles of the people in your organization. Gain a deep understanding of what they do and what motivates them. Your efforts to feel what your people feel will result in unity of purpose and energy in your organization.

This is the last post in the series The LOVE of leadership. Your comments, critiques and analysis are welcome. Please leave a comment with your take on the role love plays in leadership.

The Product Management Perspective: Product managers work closely with people from different parts (i.e. teams) of the organization. When you interact with other teams, make the effort to experience what they do and why they do it. Work diligently to understand how things look from their vantage point. And when you make decisions, keep in mind how the results will influence other people. Love the people you work with and inspire them to succeed.