Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


Why we trust leaders who admit their mistakes

Guest post by Steven J. Stowell Ph.D. 

Anyone in a leadership position knows that mistakes are inevitable.

They can hit at any time and it may not even be a direct result of your actions. But there is one mistake that is worse than the actual mishap.

If you want to dig a deeper hole for yourself then refuse to admit to your mistakes.

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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.