Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


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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Does loving your job make you a better leader?

I recently attended a keynote address by Dr. Craig Manning, sports performance coach and author of The Fearless Mind. He talked about how 10% of our brain is the conscious, and 90% is the subconscious. As we practice and perform, the things we learn in our conscious mind flow into our subconscious and result in our naturally doing what we train our mind to do.

What struck me the most was his emphasis on the importance of loving what you do, and focusing on what you love. That is the key to becoming great at your chosen vocation.

This experience made me think of a blog series I called The LOVE of Leadership. Here the word ‘love’ is used as an acronym that describes the behaviors that, if practiced, bring out the best in the people you lead:

As you strengthen these competencies—so they come out naturally from your subconscious—you will see a noticeable improvement in the success of your people and your organization.

To learn more about the science behind these powerful principles I highly recommend Dr. Manning’s book The Fearless Mind.

The Product Management Perspective: Most product managers I know love their job. This helps them work more effectively with people from other teams. Your love for your job and products will communicate a positive message to the teams you work with and the customers who use your products.


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.


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.