Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


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The LOVE of leadership: Observe

As discussed in a previous post, it might make some uncomfortable to use the word ‘love’ in the context of leadership. However, 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, and includes the following actions:

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

tuned-in2A key to success in any vocation is gaining deep insight into the market(s) you are serving. Product managers and marketers know the importance of understanding their market. In their book Tuned In, authors Craig Stull, Phil Myers and David Meerman Scott offer the following advice:

Product managers, executives, and marketers regularly meet with people in the marketplace and observe how those people do business or go about their lives. These observations provide insight into the full scope of the problems and the usage requirements and significant obstacles to adoption of any proposed solution. The most important thing they do is to live in and observe the prospect’s world.” (Emphasis added)

In the context of leadership, you want to gain a deep insight into the people you serve. Observing behaviors and actions leads to understanding. These observations come during meetings, at events, and by spending time one-on-one with the people in your organization. A tight correlation exists between listening and observing. As a leader, the two actions combine to strengthen relationships and build trust among those whom you lead. When you observe others, practice the following actions:

  • Learn specifics: Watch how people act. Determine why they do certain things in a given circumstance. Learn as much as you can about what drives people to the successful behaviors promoted by your organization. The more you learn the better prepared you are to increase success.
  • Show intent: Be honest in your desires to learn about the people you serve. The last thing you want is for anyone to think you have ulterior motives. Fix in your mind the end goal of truly understanding the people and let that behavior show through during your discovery process.
  • Develop trust: Take action that will show others you mean what you say. Encourage them to share their feelings and ideas and show genuine interest in who they are and what they believe in. Show confidence in their ability to do what they say. Be true to your words so they will trust what you say and what you do.

Successfully observing others and understanding what drives them will require effort. Your love and appreciation for them will increase, your organizational effectiveness will increase, and your bottom line will grow.


The Product Management Perspective: Product managers need to love their customers. One of the best ways to understand what motivates customers is to observe how they use your products. Watch what they do, listen to what they say and use that information to improve your products. Remember this great advice from Greg Strouse: don’t fall in love with your products or technology. Love your customers and what you can do to help them succeed.


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Great ideas

The Leadership and Success section of Investors Business Daily provides an excellent source of ideas and information for leaders. One of its highlights is the IBD’s 10 Secrets to Success section, a short article about one of  ten traits they have identified in successful people from all walks of life.

In today’s edition of IBD, Adelia Cellini Linecker writes about what it takes to make great ideas happen (the full article is available on Yahoo! Finance). “Great business ideas are seldom hatched in a boardroom. Blockbuster products are born when you hit the pavement and see firsthand what people need and want.” The ideas for this article come from the book Tuned In. Adelia identifies six actions to help you get tuned in to what people want:

  • Find openings
  • Study
  • Understand buyers
  • Create experiences
  • Communicate
  • Connect.

Phil Myers, co-author of Tuned In, stresses the need to to find market problems first, then decide which solutions customers will pay for. This approach leads to success. He says: “Be consistent about observing what’s going on in the marketplace; talk to people who may … have an inkling that they can be your customer.” Find a way to solve their problems and they will gladly pay you for it.

The Product Management Perspective: Great ideas, that turn into great products and even businesses, come from a deep understanding of the market. Product managers play a strategic role in identifying market needs and developing the ideas into product definitions. Working with their teams, they create products that people will gladly pay money to have.


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Podcast: Tuned In


Phil Myers co-authored the book Tuned In: Uncover the Extraordinary Opportunities That Lead to Business Breakthroughs. In the book, the term “resonator”  is defined as a product or service that so perfectly solves a problem that the the market feels compelled to buy it. The book illustrates how the Tuned In process works for big companies, small companies, individuals, for-profit and not-for-profit organizations; the underlying principles are the same in any business.

Yesterday I had the singular opportunity of participating in a podcast with Phil. The podcast is part of Dr. Paul’s series called Live on Purpose Radio. We had a great conversation about what it takes to create a resonator, the six-step Tuned In Process and how anyone, in any type of organization can benefit by getting tuned in. It was fun to participate and a great opportunity for me to ask questions and learn from one of the tuned in experts.

Please listen to the podcast and leave your comments about your experience and successes with Tuned In organizations. You can download the podcast on iTunes or listen to it here:

Check out these additional resources: