Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

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Trust is essential

Gaining people’s trust is essential for building a successful team.

A recent article in Investors Business Daily discusses the importance of gaining the trust of your team. Some leaders work hard to gain acceptance or even popularity with their teams rather than being upfront about their strengths or weaknesses. Ultimately, however, trust is more important than popularity. Patrick Lencioni, author of several leadership books including The Five Temptations of a CEO, said: “Trust is the most important thing a leader can have. People will walk through walls of fire for you if they know they can trust you. But without trust, nothing else matters.”

One of the best ways to gain trust is to be up front with the people you lead. Great leaders are not afraid to admit mistakes. At first blush it implies weakness; however, admitting mistakes actually helps leaders gain credibility because the people they lead see them as down-to-earth and genuine. Lencioni said: “Ironically, pretending you’re strong when you’re not is a sign of weakness.” By staying true to their promises and providing feedback through good and bad, leaders gain the trust of their teams and strengthen their organizations.

The Product Management Perspective: Trust is vital for product managers. Because the people who they depend on for successful product launches do not (usually) report to them, product managers need to do everything in their power to gain the their trust and keep their confidence. Trust goes both ways: product managers need to carry out their tasks in such a way that the team members can trust them. They (the PMs) also need to trust that the team members will do what they have committed to do.