Where there is no vision, the people perish.

I was reading an article this morning titled What Is Your Leadership Foundation?, a really good read with one of the elements discussed being ‘having a mission/vision that becomes the higher cause’. Translated, you could say that the ability to weave a compelling story about where you are going and why is fundamentally one of the most important elements of the role as a Product Management leader.

To support that point, I recall reading some research some time ago that looked at what people looked for or admired about people they worked with … co-workers and leaders alike. And while respondents definitely need to trust the people they work with (or for), they need to feel they can follow those who lead.  And the higher up the corporate ladder you climb, the more you need to be able to see further out.

So, can this ability be learned, or is it simply innate in some? As the linked article above alludes to …. some leaders are born with the ability to envision, and some are born with natural charisma … so to some it doesn’t take much effort.  But that does not mean that it cannot be learned.

I’ve said this before, in fact my About page to this blog states it … Whether intentionally chosen, or inadvertently thrust upon them, Product Managers should be leaders.  That means carving out some time from dealing with the day-to-day urgent that always crops up to be a student of your environment. That means:

  • understanding what your distinctive competence is, and how what you do not only solves a need in the marketplace, but also how it fits into a bigger picture
  • aggregating insights from such external factors as competition, customer requests, market research, technology shifts, etc.
  • associating the external factors with your competencies in a way that easily translates to your overall positioning/value proposition, your product roadmap,  and your go-to-market approach

Tying these three elements together will give you the ability to clearly articulate where you are going, what needs to be done along the way, and why it is important.