Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


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The Relationship Between Positivity and Productivity (And How to Make It Work for You)

Guest post by Annabelle Smyth

Many companies still hold tight to the old way of doing things.

They put you in high-pressure situations and hope that you get all your work done out of fear. Fear that you will miss out on that promotion, fear that you will be subject to disciplinary action and even fear that you will lose your job.

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What is your level of positivity?

“The most successful companies and businesses understand that their greatest asset is their people. When businesses take care of their people the businesses and their people thrive. When they don’t take careof this incredibly valuable resource, they lose it. Fast.”

What approach do you take to life? Do you see the glass as half empty or half full? Or are you one of those who sees the glass as completely full no matter how much water it contains? Continue reading


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Tips for Motivating Employees

Guest post by Marcela De Vivo

Managers and team leaders alike want to create the best possible environment for their employees in order to have a high-functioning workplace, but exactly how to go about this is a bit of a difficult question. Each employee has a particular way they get things done, but it is your job as their leader to motivate them to work together.

Tips-leadership

Image via Free Digital Photos

There are several different ways to go about motivating your employees; some are tried and true, and others may be things you have never done before. Whatever you do, start working today for a more positive work environment and higher group efficiency.

1. Spend time one-on-one

Sometimes, it’s easy for your employees to get lost in the midst of a huge corporation. This can be discouraging, and can ultimately cause them to think that their work is not recognized or needed.

Let them know that you do acknowledge and appreciate their efforts by spending some time with them, one-on-one. Share with them specific times when you have been satisfied with their work, and remind them why they are so indispensable within the company.

2. Be a good example

Your employees are constantly looking to you for how they should be doing things and how they should react in certain situations. That means, if you are constantly giving off negative vibes and criticizing the company, there is a pretty good chance your employees will learn to do the same.

Come into the office everyday with a positive attitude, and start including your employees in the decision-making process. They will start to respond to your outlook, which develops a much healthier work environment.

3. Devote a room to relaxation

When employees are at work day-after-day, accomplishing tasks and going to meetings, the office tends to become monotonous. Your employees need some place to relax and recharge, and why can’t this be right in your building?

Create a room specifically for relaxing and meditation. Use feng shui in the room to ensure there is a good flow and atmosphere for all your employees. One of the most effective ways to promote relaxation is to incorporate a water element within the workplace, such as a water wall or small fountain. When your employees feel rested, they will be more motivated to work hard.

4. Promote a safe environment

Like anyone, your employees get frustrated with some aspects of work. Does this mean that every time you hear them voice something negative you should be worried they are going to quit? Of course not! Instead, let them know it’s okay to speak up and voice their complaints.

As a leader it is your job to make this a healthy exercise instead of becoming negative, but sometimes getting something off our chest just feels good. Do what you can to listen to their requests and complaints and make some positive changes in the office.

5. Have fun as a group outside the office

A close-knit team works wonders for productivity at work. Building relationships and morale should be at the top of your list as a manager, but this doesn’t always need to stay at the office.

Plan group events with your team. Weekend barbeques at someone’s house, Monday morning breakfasts and even happy hour events after work all grow your employees together and get them excited to work together. You can even use these kinds of events as a reward for hard work.

Tips-blue man

Image via Free Digital Photos

No matter what methods you employ, your employees should be very important to you. They are the ones working for you, and it is your job to motivate them to be the best they can be.

Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer and business owner who always puts her team first. She and her team practice yoga and meditation every morning and, on Fridays, they all get together to have lunch to brainstorm and relax. You can find out more about her business and team by visiting Gryffin Media’s website.


The Product Management Perspective: As a product manager you have a major influence on all those responsible for creating, marketing and selling your products. While you do not manage those individuals, you can have a major effect on their productivity and success. Experiment with these principles to find ways to motivate those whom you count on for the success of your products.


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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.


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Giving back…

When you find yourself down as you sometimes do
Look beyond the things that are happening to you
Find ways to help others accomplish their goal
And you’ll find you feel chipper, happy and whole

OK, now you can see why I don’t make my living as a poet (BTW, this is my first-ever attempt at writing a poem). Look past the quality of the poetry and hopefully the message strikes a chord. If you want to be happier and more successful, give back to others. Give of your time, your talents, your resources, your optimism. The more you look beyond your own problems and help others, the brighter your own situation will appear.

Here are a few suggestions you might consider to give back to your community (be it local or virtual):

  • Volunteer: Give a bit of your time every week to a local charity or organization whose cause you support.
  • Share your knowledge: You have a lot of information that others do not. Share it with them. If you have friends who are looking for work, take time to help them. Give them recommendations to improve their résumé. Most of all, give them courage and a reason to keep their chin up. As Ivan Chalif put it so eloquently, help them fix in their mind the following statement: I Will Rise Above.
  • Use your talents: You have talents that can benefit others. Find ways to connect with others and use your abilities to make a difference in their lives. Specific examples include speaking at a webinar (the Product Management View is a great option), accepting a post at a local non-profit organization (e.g. your local product management association) or volunteering as a mentor to high school or college students in your town.
  • Stay positive: Positivity is a rare commodity these days. The more you look for the good around you the more good you will find. Help others seek the positive in their lives.

As you spend time giving to others you will find the world a much better place to live. And a side benefit: you will have less time to watch the news and dwell on the difficulties in your own life.

Note: I’m looking for tips on how to write effective poetry. Please drop me a note or leave a comment. Improvements and new verses are emphatically welcomed.


The Product Management Perspective: The first thought that comes to mind — about how product managers can give back — is to help the QA/testing team test your products when they are heads-down working on a release. Spending the time working with QA (and other teams) shows them you care and that you are not too busy to help them. Every effort you make to help someone else builds trust, strengthens your relationship and improves your effectiveness as a product manager.


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Three timely 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. If only it could be this way all year long….

There are many things that contribute to the feelings that abound during the holiday season; however, writing about all of them would be futile. Given the focus of the Lead on Purpose blog, the following three words seem timely and fitting:

  • 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 these three timely words and without a doubt you will find applicability in your own life.

I want to wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2009! Take time to enjoy the Holiday season and rejuvenate for the year ahead.


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The No Complaining Rule

What is the cost of negativity? According to the Gallup Organization it costs the U.S. economy between $250 and $300 billion every year in lost productivity. Ninety percent of doctor visits are stress related, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number one cause of office stress is coworkers and their complaining, according to Truejobs.com.

In his book The No Complaining Rule: Positive Ways to Deal with Negativity at Work, the author Jon Gordon provides answers to the cost of negativity and the benefits of focusing on the positive side of any situation. The No Complaining Rule imparts the benefits of being positive through a story (a business fable similar to his book The Energy Bus). Hope, the main character, is struggling at home and at work. Her company goes through a serious crisis that jolts her into realizing she needs to change her attitude and help others do the same. Through a series of events the author conveys the costs and problems associated with negativity and the benefits and opportunities for those who take a positive outlook on what life throws at them.

In the 1920s an author named Roger Babson interviewed the president of Argentina and asked him why South America, for all its natural wonders and resources, still lagged behind North America in terms of prosperity and progress. The president thought for a minute and said: “South America was discovered by Spaniards in search of gold but North America was settled by Pilgrims in search of God.” The intent made all the difference.

Too often organizations seek for the wrong thing. In The No Complaining Rule the author uses an analogy of tree roots and fruit. Too often people or companies focus on the fruit (results, profits, stock price, etc.), which is good to an extent and necessary for measurement and accountability. However, if they focus on the fruit too much at the expense of ignoring the root (people, culture, teamwork and spirit), then eventually the root dries up and so does the fruit.

Jon defines the ‘no complaining rule’ as follows:

Employees are not allowed to mindlessly complain to their coworkers. If they have a problem or complaint about their job, their company, their customer, or anything else, they are encouraged to bring the issue to their manager or someone who is in a position to address the complaint. However, the employees must share one or two possible solutions to their complaint as well.

Toward the end of the story Hope discovers five steps to turn complaints into solutions and misfortune into fortune:

  1. Trust in a bigger plan.
  2. Find strength in adversity.
  3. Failure today leads to success tomorrow.
  4. The worst event in life is often a catalyst for the best.
  5. Positive or Negative. The choice is ours.

The book shows why having a positive outlook is worth all the work and will lead to success and happiness. The story is engaging and well worth the time and effort.

The Product Management Perspective: Product managers often deal with negative team members, customers or executives. Occasionally it’s the product manager him/herself who has the negative attitude. Product managers can ill afford negativity given the immense effort required to produce and release products. Therefore, product managers must take the lead on ‘positivity’ (my word for making the best out of situations and encouraging others to do the same). If you find yourself working in a negative environment, take the lead and use “The No Complaining Rule” to initiate change.