Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


Motivating and influencing your teams

You’ve nailed the vision, and built the foundation of trust, now you need to motivate your teams. The success of your product depends on the work they (engineering, UX/design, marketing, sales, etc.) do. In nearly all cases, the individuals on whom you depend for this success do not report to you. That’s why motivating and influencing become some of the most important things you do as a product manager.

What are the key elements to motivating and influencing your teams?

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Practical Ways to Implement the Law of Attraction

Guest post by Harrish Sairaman

The Law of Attraction, like many other laws is a law of the universe.

The Law of Attraction (LOA) states that a person attracts situations that are aligned to his/her vibrations. This law is based on metaphysical concepts, but practically, it simply means the following:

  • What you like has an effect on whatever happens to you
  • What you think about has an effect on whatever happens to you

In short, it predominantly works on the emotions.

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Why hope is essential for leadership

‘Hope’ is one of those words that means different things to different people. To some it has religious connotations. To others it’s a strong feeling that drives them to do greater things. Many think of hope as a wish for something they want to happen but for which they don’t feel in control of the outcome.

For me, hope is an essential part of who I am; it gets me up in the morning and keeps the fire burning all day. Hope is at the core of leadership.

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How leaders harness innovation to out think competitors

“We’ve entered a new era. Call it the age of imagination, ideation, conceptualization, creativity, innovation—take your pick. Creativity, mental flexibility, and collaboration have displaced one-dimensional intelligence and isolated determination as core ingredients of a competitive advantage.”

Out ThinkIn his book OUT THINK: How Innovative Leaders Drive Exceptional Outcomes, author Shawn Hunter synthesizes a set of what he calls “truths in emerging innovative leadership practices” that help companies generate value in the form of innovative products and services. The volatility of the current economy—which he calls ‘marketquake’—demands that organizations become agile in order to survive.

In the book, Hunter explains a series of ten processes that comprise the ‘Out Think’ journey:

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Five factors to inspiring team members

We all know people who inspire us, who encourage us—through their actions and example—to work hard, to persevere through difficult circumstances. What’s their secret? How do they persuade others to do great things? While every circumstance is different, leaders find ways to inspire the people they lead.

Here are five factors[1] that, if understood and applied, will increase your ability to inspire your team members: […]

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Why do nice companies finish first?

In a recent post we found out why nice companies finish first. Throughout the book the author quotes successful leaders that show how companies (and people) that are nice experience more success than their less kind counterparts. Here are a few of my favorites:

 “We feel customers are our friends, and we talk to them like friends. What you hear is amazing.” –Nazim Ahmed

“I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter.” –Walt Disney

“Frankly, you can’t be a jerk and be successful in the service business for a long period of time. When you’re in the service business, reputation is everything.” –Kenneth Chenault

“Superior customer service has always been and always will be the cornerstone of our brand and is a cultural attribute that differentiates us from the rest of the pack.” –Chris McCormick

“The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time.” –Henry Ford

“Leaders are people who do the right thing; managers are people who do things right.” –Warren Bennis

“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.” –Oscar Wilde

And from the author himself:

“Lesson number one: it pays to be a nice guy. Second: always stand behind a pompous ass whenever possible. Your niceness will be thrown into dramatic high relief.” –Peter Shankman

“There’s no way to institutionalize or ‘corporatize’ niceness—your HR department is never going to come up with a management structure that magically creates a collegial atmosphere. It has to come from the top, and from there it will filter down through managers, supervisors, staffers and so on.” –Peter Shankman

The Product Management Perspective: Do nice product managers finish first? I’d love to know what you think; please leave a comment.


Three winning words

December is a great time of year. Most people go out of their way to be a little kinder and a bit more open to what others are thinking. Regardless of religious beliefs most people seem more open to talking to their neighbors and cutting people slack for things they would not consider at other times during the year.

There are many things that contribute to the feelings that abound during the holiday season; however, given the focus of the Lead on Purpose blog, the following three words seem most applicable:

  • Trust: The word trust has bi-direction meaning and only works when flowing both ways: you have to depend on other people to do what they say they will do; and you have to work, act and believe so that others will confide in and depend on you. People who live and behave in such a way that others can confide in them understand the importance of trust. Take inventory of the people you trust and the people you feel trust you. Do everything in your power to make word ‘trust’ part of your persona.
  • Integrity: The word integrity has deep meaning and is often intermingled with words like honesty and truthfulness. 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 consequences, is the hallmark of integrity.
  • Positivity: The word positivity suggests the act of being positive; engaging in positive activity. It’s a word that implies action and effort put forth to improve your circumstances. Positivity does not mean arrogance or hubris, but a quiet, inner self-confidence that — regardless of the circumstances — inspires people to keep moving forward. People who are optimistic about the future and take a positive attitude whenever possible find success in ways other people will never know. It’s not magic, but a law of nature: optimism leads to success.

Take some time to ponder and apply these three winning words and without a doubt you will find applicability in your own life.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2011! Take time to enjoy the Holiday season and rejuvenate for the year ahead.


Communicating with customers

When times are good, communicating with customers is easy. Travel budgets are typically flush with cash, optimism abounds and your desire to discuss company direction is high. However, in difficult times one of the first things to drop off in many companies is customer interaction. Whether because of budget cuts or the more serious problem — loss of company confidence — communicating with customers seems to go by the wayside when times get tough.

Regardless of how well your company is doing, you need to communicate with customers. In a recent IBD article, Gloria Lau emphasized the importance of customer relationships:

Get out there and make sure clients know you’re there for them. A lot of suppliers are spending time internally focused, curtailing travel expenses. Instead, this is the time when you should spend more money with customers. You need to build those relationships to let clients know you’ll be there for them in the long term. Once you have a solid relationship with customers and you help them through a crisis, their memories can be pretty long.

In difficult economic times spending money to interact with customers is a sound investment. Spending time and money on potential customers is also relevant. Chances are your competitors are not making the same effort, so make the most of your opportunities.

The Product Management Perspective: Much has been written about the importance of customer visits to the success of your products. In this podcast with Stacey Weber we discuss the importance of customer visits, and other topics such as business problems and requirements analysis.