Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


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Three steps toward creating market-leading products

The goal of every company and product leader is to invent products (or services) that become recognized market leaders. Creating a new product category is icing on the cake, but also rare and extremely difficult.

We all know about companies and products like VMware, Google, and Uber that have not only developed cool products, but also fashioned new life-changing industries. Thinking about it from that perspective might cause us to shrink and say, “I could never do that.” However, there are many lesser-known companies and products that lead their markets; and done right, creating new markets and categories is well within our grasp.

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Leadership styles for directing small teams

Leadership differs depending on the size of the group you’re leading. For most product managers, the people they lead work on different teams and the individuals they need to influence don’t report to them. Regardless of whether the people you lead (or should be leading) report to you, the need to lead soundly is important.

Understanding more deeply your style of leadership will help you lead more effectively. The work will go better, and you’ll enjoy it more.

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4 Steps for Designing a Healthy Interconnective Infrastructure

Guest post by Yvette Bethel

Your interconnective infrastructure is the framework that facilitates interpersonal and other work relationships. It is important to realize that it doesn’t only encompass interpersonal relationships, it also incorporates your communication channels, organizational structure, policies, procedures, and strategy. As a leader, it is important to be able to identify and facilitate your interconnective infrastructure because it is the glue that holds your team together, either facilitating unhealthy cultures or positive ones propelled by authentic, respectful interactions founded on skills that shape and sustain trust.

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How to take a new offering to market

We live in a great time where, in most of the world, you can invent a new product or service and—with the appropriate up-front work—earn money from the value it creates for customers. This is remarkable!

Creating new products and services, however, takes a lot of thinking and hard work—especially in the technology space. Coming up with an initial idea is often the easiest part of the entire process. Forming the plan and doing the work just to get your offering ready to sell is where the big effort rests. How do you take a new product or service to market?

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How to effectively transition into a new role

For most organizations, individuals starting a new job have 90 days to prove themselves. What happens during this critical time can make or break your career.

Your goal is to get as rapidly as possible to the break-even point. This is the point at which you have contributed as much value to the organization as you have consumed from it. Putting together a successful strategy for getting to this point, and accelerating past it, is key to your transition.

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On ideas and strategic thinking

Every product and service we have today was once an idea. Even the most basic creations did not exist before someone came up with an impression for a better outcome that would be useful in some way.

When you stop and think about it, the number of incredible products and services available today is truly amazing. In many cases, these great products have developed into product lines, companies and even industries. And it all started with an idea.

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How do you land the career of your dreams?

Guest post by Frank Song

Many working professionals are stuck in underpaid, intellectually unstimulating jobs, and at companies with no career growth potential. Do you know anyone in this position? Does this describe your situation?

In today’s competitive landscape, you need to take a different approach to landing the career of your dreams.

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3 strategies to lead when you can’t mandate

Most organizations are made up of teams that work together to accomplish a common objective. Within those teams are individuals who are responsible for specific tasks. The combination of those tasks create the desired outcome. What is the secret to influencing others to work together effectively?

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2021: What Will Your Legacy Be?

Guest post by Bill Jensen

The next five years are likely to be the most crucial in your entire career.

If I’m not careful in how I pose the question, when I ask leaders about their legacy, I might get canned retirement speech. “I want to leave this business prepared for the future and knowing that I made a difference.”

But as our conversation continues, the import of considering one’s legacy within just the next five years becomes clear. This is an era of transformative disruption.

What keeps many leaders awake is being Uber’d — experiencing massive disruptions in everything they do that seem to come out of nowhere – disruptions that can uproot entire businesses and industries before they’ve finished their morning cup of coffee. Continue reading


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Accelerating Leadership Development in the Workplace

Contributed by Global Knowledge

Today’s business recruiters face a growing concern over the future of leadership. This concern is certainly not unfounded – by the year 2020 over a quarter of the workforce will be aged 55 and over (compared to just 13% in 2000), and many of these will hold senior positions in their organization. Employers are therefore being faced with the sensitive task of bridging the skills gap in a bid to find new leaders to replace those who are heading towards retirement.

Accelerating Leadership DevelopmentJocelyn Bérard, Global Knowledge’s Vice President is one leader who is working diligently to steer organizations through the leadership predicament towards a green light solution. In his latest publication Accelerating Leadership Development: Practical Solutions for Building Your Organization’s Potential, Bérard identifies key ways in which employers can work to fill leadership roles, whether through leadership training or business development strategies.

According to Bérard, the book’s main purpose is to aid businesses to “speed up the process of leadership development [by making sure that they] have the right opportunities and infrastructure to retain that talent.” The publication includes a step-by-step approach to accelerating leadership development within the workplace, which seeks to lay the foundations for organizations to “identify talent gaps, select next-generation talent, determine leadership requirements and give them [employees] the tools they need to succeed.”

The publication also includes interviews with top international academics and executives from Europe and North America who offer sound advice on how to find, encourage and nurture emerging talent in the workplace.

In addition to his recent book, Bérard also regularly offers leadership advice in industry publications both online and in print. In a recent article on accelerating leadership development, Bérard identified two key strategies for organizations seeking to prepare for leadership succession:

1.  The 9-Box Grid

A core part of the solution is identifying potential leader candidates, this may be an employee who consistently produces work of a high standard and is skilled in every area of their role. One tool, which Bérard suggests organizations can use, is the nine-box grid that can be used to position potential leaders on a low, medium and high performance scale.

However, merely scoring employees with a performance rating is not enough to predict and rate potential leaders. Bérard identifies six factors that employees need to take into account in order to assess future leaders. These are:

  1. Cognitive complexity and capacity
  2. Learning orientation: self and others
  3. Drive and achievement orientation
  4. Motivation to lead
  5. Social and emotional complexity and capacity
  6. Personal and business ethics

These factors are believed to be essential in order to streamline the leadership assessment process.

2.  Carefully Identify Potential Leaders Through Diagnosis

Meticulously assessing a potential leader’s capabilities, competencies, experience and knowledge is essential in order to recognize strengths and identify room for improvement. Bérard says options for assessment could include “360-degree surveys or simulations, validated personality traits inventories, tailored knowledge, and an experience review interview or questionnaire.”

Using these four components to appropriately assess potential-leaders will give employers an accurate indication of whether a candidate is ready to make the leap of faith towards leadership training and development.

Author Note: Global Knowledge are IT and business training providers who organize a number of leadership development training events designed to offer practical solutions for building an organization’s potential. The next event will be hosted by Jocelyn Bérard on the 2nd December. Visit the website to find out more.


The Product Management Perspective: Many product management leaders face challenges with aging individual contributors on their teams. What makes this challenge even more difficult is the shortage of college programs focused on product management, which means new candidates need training and preparation beyond what they get in college to get started. Therefore, product management leaders must focus on not only finding people with the right skills to lead their products, but also on training them for their job. When hiring a VP or Director of Product Management, make sure your chosen candidate understands these aspects and will focus on developing leaders in your product organization.