Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


Four chances to be a hero

Sports analogies are few and far between on Lead on Purpose. However, with the 2008 baseball season coming to an end last night, and NBA basketball starting up, and football (at least American) in full swing, sports analogies seem fitting.

A kind older gentlemen was discussing the end of the baseball season with me last night. He told me about growing up watching the great players of the game. As a boy he loved baseball. He saw the greats like Mickey Mantle and Frank Robinson play and grew to love the sport. He compared it to basketball and said, “when the (basketball) game is on the line, you know where the ball’s going; but in baseball, on any given night every player has four chances to be a hero.” In other words, in baseball, every player takes his turn at bat. Every time at the plate is a chance to make a great play and be a hero (not to mention the opportunities to make defensive plays in the field). When the game is on the line, the player who is next in order can make it or break it; either way he gets a chance.

Great leaders take the hero attitude every day and at every opportunity. They find ways to motivate their teams and lead them to success. They may not have all the gifts the “superstars” have, but on any given day they can hit a home run.

The Product Management Perspective: To the extent product managers gain the trust of the people with whom they work, they will become heroes to their organization. Trust goes both ways: product managers need to carry out their tasks in such a way that the team members can trust them. They (the PMs) also need to trust that their team members will do what they have committed to do. Every day you “get a chance to bat;” always make the most of it.