I’ve pointed out in many instances … whether intentionally chosen, or inadvertently thrust upon them, Product Managers should be leaders. I just got reacquainted with a book I finished several years ago by Mark Miller, The Heart of Leadership: Becoming a Leader People Want to Follow. What a wonderful characterization of not just leadership skills, but leadership character. It is an easy read, so I would recommend picking it up for yourself, but here is a summary of the main five points with some of my thoughts included.
Hunger for Wisdom – leadership done well is difficult. Wisdom is essential as it informs our decisions. Think about it in the context of your role as a product management leader … if you stop becoming a student of your industry, your customers, your competitors … what happens?
Expect the Best – while you won’t always get the best, your outlook will make you a better leader. As product management leaders, we have all been around the pessimists within our organizations. Do you feel naturally compelled to follow them? Or are you more inclined to follow someone who has a vision for success and expects to meet it head on?
Accept Responsibility – The best leaders don’t blame others. They own their actions and their outcomes. Admittedly, this one isn’t easy as a product management leader. Projects succeed and fail everyday, but our reaction to those success and failures often dictate what happens next. In a previous post I commented that when things go wrong … do you get bitter, or better?
Respond with Courage – When faced with a challenge or difficult situation, the best leaders most often respond with courage … not the path with less risk, less conflict, or less personal discomfort. When was the last time you faced a difficult situation as a product management leader? How did you respond? Leadership is not about making the popular choice, it’s about making the right choice.
Think Others First – This is a topic near and dear to me, and one I’ve posted on many times … SERVANT LEADERS constantly work to help others win. Servant leaders make others better by listening, through understanding and empathy, by being aware and especially being self-aware, through persuasion, through conceptualization or vision, by being a good steward, and through commitment to the growth of people and the greater community.