Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


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Developing team member skills

As you progress on the journey of building great teams, you create the vision, build a strong foundation of trust and motivate your team to reach beyond what they thought they were capable of doing. The next step is to work with your teams to develop their ability to work more effectively and hone their skills for the markets your products serve.

Why should you focus on developing your team?

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Developing influential leadership

How do you effectively motivate others to do their best work?

One of the keys to becoming an influential leader is learning the skills—you can practice every day—that will establish your leadership. Finding ways to get yourself, your colleagues and your teams aligned and focused will pay dividends as you move forward. The world needs more leaders.

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Leaders Who Follow Rules

Leaders who follow rules have subordinates who do – Guest post by Jack Meyer

Great leadership skills are those that are developed over time. Although textbooks and classes can help you improve the kind of leader you want to be, it takes real-life practice and implementation to make you great. A successful leader has the trust of those under him or her and is supported by those subordinates. Without the respect of those who follow you, there will never be real greatness to your leadership. Developing that trust can take time, but once it’s developed there is nothing the whole cannot accomplish.

1. The Boss – Many people will have an attitude that they can do whatever they want because they are the boss. Although it may be true, it doesn’t mean that it’s the most productive way to act. Resentment among your subordinates can cause dissension within the ranks and can cause irreparable damage to the unit.

2. Realistic – Rules and guidelines need to be realistic for your subordinates. You don’t want to set them up to fail, but you don’t want to be too lax either. You’ll need to establish a firm set of rules without making the task too difficult to follow. Being hard on your subordinates doesn’t always work out for the best. However, you don’t want to be too lenient on what is expected of your team.

3. Respectful – Being respectful to your subordinates is an easy way to have respect reciprocated. Fear-mongering and power abuse don’t earn respect…they create fear. Many individuals will confuse one for the other, and it could create a hostile environment. Respect is earned from being a leader, not given from leading the unit. If you respect the boundaries of those under you, they will respect yours in kind.

4. Bending the Rules – Sometimes, being the leader has its advantages of being able to bend the rules to fit a certain circumstance. Although bending the rules can potentially improve the productivity of the unit in those circumstances, you don’t want to bend them too often. If a leader is seen as bending the rules on a regular basis, the subordinates will begin to do it as well. If everyone is bending the rules, then it begins to create chaos within the environment.

5. Set in Stone – Rules don’t have to be set in stone. Periodically, a revamp of the rules may be necessary to encompass technologies, living environments, and anything else that can cause contradictions within them. If more organizations took a yearly look at their rules for conduct, many issues could be avoided. One suggestion is letting the subordinates assist in create the new revamp of the rules. It gives them a sense of empowerment and shows that you trust their judgment. However, don’t give them too long of a leash. Let them assist you, but don’t let them do it for you.

6. Passing Responsibilities – Assigning a protégé to act as your team leader could help you keep order among your subordinates. If your organization is larger than five or six people, having a buffer may help keep the team focused. Like you, your team leader needs to be an example. You’ll need to have someone who can follow the rules and enforce them just as you would.

A true leader will guide subordinates by example. Following your own rules can set the tone of how your subordinates view you. They are more likely to follow the rules if they see that their leader has done so. Act as how you’d like your subordinates to act and a well-organized team can develop.

Jack Meyer is a freelance writer and regular contributor at www.nannybackgroundcheck.com/. He has a passion for various subjects like education, career and technology, Parenting etc.  If you have any questions email Jack at jackmeyers08 [at] gmail.com


The Product Management Perspective: Product managers play a key role in forming productive teams. Lead out in being realistic and respectful to your team members, and they will happily follow.


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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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Five tips for career growth

There’s an old saying that goes something like this: “If you are not moving forward, you are moving backward.” If you’re moving backward, who’s fault is it? Who is responsible? We all know the answer to this.

The people whose careers seem to grow the fastest follow similar patterns of behavior. They understand competition exists, they recognize the steps they need to take to succeed, and they understand who is responsible. They take charge of their career and accept full responsibility for their growth.

The following five actions will help accelerate your career growth:

  1. Improve skills and knowledge: Instead of hunkering down in your current state, take specific actions to improve your skills. Look for opportunities for training. Read books. Read blogs. Make an effort to learn new skills and practice them as much as you can in your current job. Remember these words from Eric Hoffer: “In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.”
  2. Develop trust: People naturally want to surround themselves with people they trust. Developing trust takes time and consistent effort. Trust goes two ways: you need to behave in such a way that people will trust you will do what you say. And equally important, you need to trust others.
  3. Help others: One of the keys to growth is helping others. When you make the effort to assist someone else to become better at what they do, you become better yourself.
  4. Believe in yourself: As your skills increase, you gain more experience and a clearer understanding your significance to your organization. Believing in yourself, your skills, and your ability to succeed — without becoming arrogant — is a good thing. And never forget the people who have helped you along the way.
  5. Work yourself out of the job: This one may not make sense on its face, but the idea is to work effectively and close the loop on what you are doing. Think in terms of projects: plan what you are going to do, work at it and when it’s finished move on to the next project. Work effectively and make it so that anyone could step in and take over. As you do that you will automatically make yourself more valuable to your company, and they will have no choice but to promote you or find something more challenging for you to do.

One of the Harvard Business Review management tips states it very clearly: “Responsibility for your professional development lies squarely on your shoulders.” Go out and make it happen.


The Product Management Perspective: Career growth is important to every product manager I know. The role lends itself to working with many people in different parts of the company and with customers and others external to the organization. Practicing the five actions listed above will increase your value to your company and accelerate your career growth. And when you work yourself out of the product management position, perhaps you’ll find yourself in an executive’s chair.


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Creating value in 2011

Every New Year brings new opportunities. Something about turning over the calendar causes people to take a hard look at what they can do to improve on their current situation. Ultimately, we all want to create more value — for ourselves, for the organizations we associate with and for the people we care about. 

The word value has many meanings. The one most applicable to this discussion is “relative worth, merit or importance.” The more we improve in these areas, the more value we create. Our efforts will build over time and improve our self-confidence. Now that we’re off and running in 2011, let’s explore a few ways to increase our value:

  • Improve skills and knowledge: Instead of hunkering down and running below the radar, take specific actions to improve your skills. Look for opportunities for training. Read books. Read blogs. Make an effort to learn new skills and practice them as much as you can in your current job. Remember these cogent words of Eric Hoffer: “In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.”
  • Help others: One of the best antidotes to self-pity and fear is to help other people. When you make the effort to assist someone else to become better at what they do, you become better yourself. When you help others your confidence grows and you increase your value to those around you.
  • Develop trust: People naturally want to surround themselves with people they trust. Developing trust takes time and consistent effort. Trust goes two ways: you need to behave in such a way that people will trust you will do what you say. And equally important, you need to trust others. Developing relationships of trust increases your value.
  • Believe in yourself: As your skills increase, you gain more confidence; you begin to understand your significance to your organization. Trials and difficult circumstances can diminish these feelings, but they should not. Believing in yourself, your skills, and your ability to succeed — without becoming arrogant — is a good thing. Confidence is key. Never forget the people who have helped you increase your value along the way.
  • Work yourself out of the job: This one may not make sense at face value. If you work yourself out of the current job, what will you do? The idea is to work effectively and close the loop on what you are doing. Think in terms of projects: each one has a beginning and an end. You plan what you are going to do, work at it and when it’s finished you move on to the next project. When your project is successful, it’s easier to land the next project. Jobs are the same way. Make your work so effective and make it run so well that anyone could step in and take over. As you do that you will automatically make yourself more valuable to your company, and they will have no choice but to promote you or find something more challenging for you to do.
If you’ve been hunkered down over the past year, don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone in 2011. Let’s get out there and create value!


The Product Management Perspective: Jim Holland has a great article about making 2011 the year of product management. As a product manager you are in a unique position to create value. The PM role lends itself to working with many people in different parts of the company and with customers and others external to the organization. Practicing the five actions listed above will increase your value to your company and accelerate your career growth. And when you work yourself out of the product management position, perhaps you’ll find yourself in an executive seat.


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Invest in the real assets – the people

People are Assets

In most organizations the word “asset” is linked to their technology IP, products or other items that end up on the balance sheet. The traditional accounting equation drives this mindset. So it’s no wonder that when organizations plan their investments they focus on improving their traditional assets and their bottom line.

In my recent article published in The Pragmatic Marketer I assert that in any company or organization, the real assets are the people. Their intellect—along with personality, skills, knowledge, character, integrity, and other things collectively referred to as “human life value”—create the true value in any organization.

When it comes to investing in the company or organization, it makes sense to invest in the real assets – the people. For most organizations, investing in people requires a change in mindset. Norman Wolfe wrote a great post called The Challenge of Investing in People. He says:

In every business, at the end of the day it is the people who produce results (I have yet to see a machine or a process produce anything without people). While it is easy to see expenditures in the “feel good stuff” as wasting resources, the real challenge lies in the difficulty to determine if the investment will produce the result. The proof is in the results, but how do I know that my investments will in the end improve results.

What examples have you seen where organizations invest in their people? What results have you observed?