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Where does leadership begin and end? Is it intrinsically tied to walking into and out of our work doors every day (either literally or virtually)?  Or does it extend beyond the work aspects of our lives into the core being of who we are?  Many years ago I had the privilege of participating in a leadera9d9c7c2ee40aa511c1d7550b8a21014ship training curriculum that guided me to the conclusion for me personally … it is the latter.  For example, my role as a leader definitely did not stop walking out of the work door after I became a parent!

Honestly, it shouldn’t shock any of us the same leadership characteristics which help us in our roles as Product Management Leaders transfer quite nicely to our roles in family (spouse, father, etc) or in our community (PTA, Homeowners, volunteering, etc).

How did I arrive at writing this post?  Reflection.  My son is the same age now I was when I lost my father.  And even before he died, my father traveled so much I never really benefited from the mentor side of my relationship with him. So I was reminiscing recently about some of the things I’ve shared with my son I wish I would have heard.  Two things in particular translate well back into the world we all live in as leaders!

Point # 1 – Integrity

Do a search within my blog and you’ll notice this is a topic I’ve posted on many times.  It’s important.  One of the books I read about raising boys talked about the need for ceremony at critical stages of becoming a man (much like the progression in medieval times from page -> squire -> knight) and using the family crest as a way to solidify the meaning.

I took the advice, and looked at my own family crest to pave the way.  Right under my family name is the Latin inscription

Sola Virtus Invicta – Virtue alone is invincible.

Virtue translates to moral excellence, integrity of character.  And one of the most impactful things I’ve heard with respect to integrity is it cannot be taken from you … but it can be freely given away!

When it comes to leadership, a person’s character is of paramount importance.  I cover this in my posts Aristotle on Purpose, Character, and Leadership as well as A Seemingly Easy Choice … Or Is It?.

Point #2 – 4 Traits

The same book I referred to above intimated real men (and I will freely translate this to real leaders) have the following 4 characteristics:

  • Lead Courageously – I used this quote from St. Thomas Beckett in my post Leadership Takes Courage, and Humility … tell me it doesn’t take courage to approach leadership from this perspective!

Hereafter, I want you to tell me, candidly and in secret, what people are saying about me. And if you see anything in me that you regard as a fault, feel free to tell me in private. For from now on, people will talk about me, but not to me. It is dangerous for men in power if no one dares to tell them when they go wrong.

  • 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 when things go wrong … do you get bitter, or better?
  • Expect the Greater Reward – 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?
  • Reject Passivity  – what kind of success would we see as product management leaders if we just sat back and waited for things to happen?  Right, you wouldn’t serve in the role for very long.  We are expected to be proactive, harbingers of change, always seeking to improve upon and grow the business.

By the way, being of Irish/Welsh descent I’ve always been a fan of Celtic folklore … and love the symbolism behind the Celtic knot … no beginning and no end. Hence the reason for including the image 🙂