Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


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Are you a passionate leader?

Successful leaders possess a deep passion for their work and other activities in which they participate. They find ways to engage their people to go faster, work harder and improve their results. They don’t push or drive people, they inspire, they cause people to dig deep and give their best effort.

In describing how leaders demonstrate passion, Erika Andersen gave the following advice in her Forbes.com article Passionate Leaders Aren’t Loud, They’re Deep:

True passion requires honestly committing to something about which you feel deeply, and staying committed through difficult circumstances.

When a leader is passionate, people feel a deep sense of being led in a worthy direction by someone who is committed to something more important than his or her own individual glory.

Passionate people work hard to make things happen. I recently met Nitin Julka, who is passionate about product management. He reached out to see if I would be willing to give him some pointers on how to become a successful product manager. We scheduled a call, and within five minutes I could tell he’s eager to learn and excited for the opportunities he’s pursuing. Nitin shared with me his Passion Circle—things that drive his passion such as integrity, optimism and hard work.

What you do is less important than how you do it. Do something you love and do it with passion. What are you passionate about?


The Product Management Perspective: Product managers play a key role in the success of their products. They make sure everyone on the team is working effectively and see that all the parts come together properly. Passion is key to building consensus and motivating team members to do great things. Let your passion show through in everything you do as the product leader.


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Essential Leadership Traits

Essential Leadership Traits in the Successful Small Business Owner — Guest post by Linda Forshaw

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John Maxwell

In the course of an ordinary working day, a small business owner might wear many hats, but rarely is there one as important as that of leader. All businesses, no matter their size, require a strong leader at the helm. The temptation of the small business owner may be to get “stuck in” and adopt a role as a pseudo employee. While there is merit attached to not being afraid to get your hands dirty, in essence to lead by example, the smart small business owner will place a greater emphasis on a wider leadership strategy.

Communication must be crystal clear
Having a clear vision is essential, but communicating that vision is an absolute must. Providing employees with a roadmap of where you want to be helps everyone to stay on the same page; to keep track of the bigger picture and work consistently toward achieving it. A lack of clarity filtered down from above will only ever lead to missed opportunities and ultimately spell trouble for the small business owner.

Strong relationships have a very long reach
Solid relationships lie at the very core of the operations of any successful small business. To listen to others is a vital skill, but it is also imperative to understand and to acknowledge what others are saying. People are the greatest resource in any business, so engaging in a meaningful dialog with employees, customers, and other persons of importance is a fundamental part of building relationships in the vein of strong leadership.

The best kind of culture comes from above
Most people will understand the destructive nature that can result from a culture that focuses almost exclusively on backstabbing and blame. The strong small business owner will set an example of trust and cooperation. The best place for a positive company culture to come from is from the top down. Passion, compassion, energy, and motivation – they are all an essential part of a solution-centric attitude that is best served from above.

Give them room to grow and you will prosper
As the old adage goes, “Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.” To put it into a more modern context, the most successful of small business owners inherently understand the potential value of contributions that are made by others. The only way to benefit from such contributions is to allow them to happen in the first place. You never really know where the next great idea will come from, and if it comes from one of your employees, you want to be the one to hear about it first.

How will you lead today?

Linda Forshaw is a Business Information Systems graduate from Lancaster University in the UK. The leading contributor to DegreeJungle, she is a full time writer and blogger specializing in education, social media, and entrepreneurship. Contact her on Twitter @seelindaplay


The Product Management Perspective: Successful product managers build strong relationships with people, both inside and outside the company; clear communication is key. PMs, like small business owners, need to listen to others, and work with them to release successful products.


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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.


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Guest Post: Leadership—Why Passion Still Matters

By Melissa Crossman

We associate the term passion too much with magazine ads for perfumes or movie clips about doomed love. According to business leadership gurus Tim Elmore and Glenn Llopis, it needs to be a term we associate more with our careers and work life. At most Monday morning staff meetings, voices rarely stray from a monotone unless a colleague mentions a leisure event he attended over the weekend. Managers either cajole or threaten — whatever method seems more productive this month — to enlist staff support for the upcoming week’s planned projects. Another unproductive meeting ends as employees move grudgingly toward their cubicles to begin their workdays. What passion? Where?

Is Passion Even Part of the Preparation?

Despite our idealistic notion that college is the time for young adults to seek out and study the discipline that inspires them with enough passion to build a lifelong career, other circumstances can intervene. In times of scarcity such as the recent economic recession, students tend to turn pragmatic and pursue majors that might provide them the best opportunities for employment following graduation. Whether they attend classes in a physical classroom or log onto an online school, a significant amount of students are going to seek a degree that will most likely provide them a paycheck after graduation, not a “fill-in” job.

Passions: Interests on Steroids

Passions, writes Tim Elmore, are like interests on steroids. He encourages participants in his leadership classes to identify what he terms a “Passion Profile” inclusive of both issues and actions. The ultimate purpose of this exercise is to help individuals to discover their own “incarnational passions,” i.e., those that can blend the personal, professional, individual and communal. There are many ways to pursue or even discover your passions. These might be discovered via furthering your education, volunteering efforts, great literature or even a religious experience. Whatever they are, when discovered and pursued, these interests can help lead workers to a fulfilling career.

Passion and Leadership

Llopis ties passion to the ability of leadership to successfully institute and implement strategic change. For a leader, following a true passion can unlock leadership in a constructive, responsible way. Elmore further identifies two specific reasons passion is important to leaders or those considering a position in leadership. First, thorough knowledge of a passion is a type of self-awareness that allows you to then focus limited energies on said passions. In addition, this form of self-knowledge typically allows those who possess it to act as mentors and leaders for what Elmore terms “your team.” Part of the mentoring process is that of leaders helping team members to identify their own passions, i.e., working as a “passionator.”

Good leadership is difficult to perform and hard to describe, yet easily noted when you’re lucky enough to work for a strong and capable leader. Too often, Elmore says, passion is confused with intensity. Intensity might have its place in the toolset of a good leader, but it’s no substitute for true passion. As Elmore clarifies: “Intensity is marked mostly by emotion, [while] passion is marked mostly by conviction.” No matter what sort of role you perform in your work life, you can rely on passion to help hone leadership skills.

Melissa Crossman lives in Indianapolis with her two dogs. She writes for The Professional Intern, specializing on education and career guidance topics.


The Product Management Perspective: As product manager you play a key role in the success of your products. You make sure everyone on the team is working effectively and all the parts come together properly. Passion plays a key role in building consensus and motivating team members to do great things. Let your passion show through in everything you do as the product leader.


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Leaders’ focus

Successful people are driven to increase their performance and expand their abilities. They understand the need to work hard in areas for which they have great passion.

Regardless of how many things you want to accomplish, you must focus on the most important and let other things — which in the right context may be very good things — go by the wayside. Tom Peters sheds an interesting perspective on focus with the following quote:

Leaders focus on the soft stuff — people, values, character, commitment, a cause. All of that was supposed to be too (indefinable) to count in business. Yet it’s the stuff that real leaders take care of first. That’s why leadership is an art, not a science.

What do you feel are the most important things you should focus on? Where is your time as a leader best spent? Please leave a comment and let’s have a conversation on how leaders can best focus their time and attention.


The Product Management Perspective: For product managers, ‘focus’ can seem fleeting at times. More than just about any role at any company, product management requires interaction with and touches into every other department in the company. Focusing on deliverables can seem futile. However, to the extent you focus on the ‘soft stuff’ suggested by Mr. Peters, you will find your ability to complete your work will improve and will hasten. Working effectively with others leads them to trust you and to work harder and more effectively for your cause.