Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


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Developing Your Team Purpose

Guest post by John Izzo, PhD and Jeff Vanderwielen PhD

Today’s product managers wear many hats and are required to be motivators, counsellors, mentors, and enforcers. It’s difficult to balance competing job priorities and some leaders do a great job of truly engaging with their teams. And many others, despite their best efforts, manage to motivate the top performers but can’t seem to get the whole team rowing in the same direction. We found that to create a common goal, it’s vital to ramp up your purpose as an organization. Here, we will share from our book The Purpose Revolution: How Leaders Create Engagement and Competitive Advantage in an Age of Social Good  how to develop and polish your team purpose statement.

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Turning your desires into purpose

Success depends as much on the desire of an individual as anything else. Hard work, persistence and intelligence also factor in, and depending on the endeavor, these may play a big role. However, without a burning inner desire, your chance of success is greatly diminished.

How do you channel your desires to successful outcomes? How do you turn your desires in to a burning purpose that will keep you going strong throughout your life?

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How to find your WHY

A key focus of this blog—from its beginning—has been purpose. Leading on purpose, working with purpose; doing things intentionally, doing things for the right reason. Though topics have led in various directions, the core focus has been purpose.

A word closely tied with purpose is why. Thanks to Simon Sinek, the word ‘why’ has become much more powerful. We’ve learned that “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

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Creating a compelling culture

Whether you recognize it or not, the organization you work in has a culture. Big or small, every company has beliefs and values that drive its core philosophy.

Top leaders understand the importance of culture and work to ensure their organizations have a great culture. They have an abundance mentality and nurture their teams to grow and progress. They spare no expense in creating a compelling culture.

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How do you define your purpose?

Among the most important discoveries you will make in your life is finding your purpose—the reason for your being, the core principles you espouse, the intent for which you get out of bed every day.

Thinking about the life before you is one of the most important things you can do. Defining your purpose and planning for the future is key to your success. You need to articulate the purpose in your life.

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Leadership and confidence

Confidence is a key driver of effective leadership. The ability to both possess and exhibit confidence will have a measurable impact on your ability to lead well. Understanding what confidence is, and is not, will improve your leadership abilities.

Confidence is not arrogance. An arrogant person attempts to lift himself up and put others down. Every move is calculated to elevate himself, and make sure others know of his importance.

Confidence is not cockiness. A cocky person wants the world to know how good he is, and while not necessarily putting others down, he makes a big deal of himself.

On the other end of the spectrum, confidence is not passivity. A passive person knows he’s not that good and thinks everyone else is better. He goes along letting things happen to him, convinced he’s helpless to do anything about it.

So what does it mean to be confident? I like this definition from Dr. Craig Manning:

Confidence is a feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something. Self-confidence is a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities and judgment. Many people confuse self-confidence with arrogance – they are very different behaviors. You cannot have too much self-confidence; store up as much as you can to help you in the difficult moments.

A confident person doesn’t hesitate when asked a question; the answer comes immediately. A confidence person is aggressive towards events (e.g. winning a sale) and things, but not aggressive towards people, at least in a negative way. A confident person doesn’t worry about whom she is and what she can do. This frees her up to do great things as a leader.

To learn more about how you can become a confident leader, I highly recommend Dr. Manning’s book The Fearless Mind: 5 Essential Steps to Higher Performance. Much of what I have learned about confidences comes from his book and from personal interactions with him.

Full disclosure: I know Dr. Manning and consider him a dear friend. His teachings and influence are making a considerable impact on my son’s efforts to become a championship ballroom dancer.


The Product Management Perspective: Confidence is an essential characteristic for product managers. PMs drive the product roadmap, which has a major impact on the overall success of the company. Their confidence is key to creating successful products.


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How can you make a positive perception?

Beyond IllusionsHow we perceive things shapes our lives. In the book Beyond Illusions: The Magic of Positive Perception, Brad Barton—a magician, athlete and all-around great guy—takes you on a journey of looking past illusions and forming positive perceptions that will change your life.

When we understand how we’re deceived, we have the power to no longer be enslaved by the illusions and misperceptions that create personal, social and business crises. This is how we achieve freedom.

Each chapter deals with a compelling topic, with humor and emotion. I literally laughed out loud reading some parts and shed tears in others. Brad’s ability to teach principles through stories is second to none. For example, he discusses the terribly difficult business crises of Tylenol and Jack In The Box to drive home the point that bad situations can lead to great opportunities.

Brad teaches, “Anything is a blessing – illness, accident, injury, bad luck – depending on how we respond to it and grow from it.” He illustrates this with a powerful story about his brother Will, who became a quadriplegic after a terrible accident. Will almost died (actually did die and came back), never gave up hope, worked hard and eventually was able to walk.

Brad tells his own story about overcoming tremendous odds to become a top college athlete. “Helping others is the best way to help yourself.” He also developed what he calls the Ten A’s, “the magic formula behind the power of positive perception.” They are: acceptance, acknowledgement, acclamation, action, approval, appreciation, appraisal, achievement, accessibility and allegiance.

Beyond Illusions is an excellent (and quick) read that will change your life. It will improve your leadership and your outlook.


The Product Management Perspective: Every product manager can benefit from the magic of positive perceptions. As the chief product evangelist you play a key role in keeping everyone engaged and optimistic about the work they’re doing. This book has valuable tools to help you win the fight.