I'm just a common person, but I'll offer you my crude understanding.

Notes on Leadership…


Things that I try to reminding myself about leadership…

There is no school for product management. You gain the skill & one fine day you decide to declare yourself one. Leadership is an important part of a Product Manager’s role. Over the last few years I have created a few personal rules on how to lead as a product manager.

1.Align with the Doers: Invest time with the ones who actually make your product, not just their managers. Don’t just deal with them as resources, by only evaluating them in velocity/capacity points. Real aligning would mean:
– Try not to make any major decision without soliciting their candid input,and ideally their (not necessarily their manager’s) buy in.
– If I listen to their concerns; Then make sure that you take action. Just listening and acting all-concerned doesn’t work. Solving their problems eventually solves larger ones for me.

The best thing I got in return was the right to be the first one informed of any good or bad newsThis right is not an easy one to gain.

2. Influence is not a dark art: Aligning with the doers does not mean not connecting with their managers. But do not do this time investment with some future return in mind.
Simple rules:
– Reach out to them as soon as they (or I) join the project/team
– Be honest & consistent about what drives me
– Listen & learn their goals & constraints in order to drive changes in a way that makes them successful
This genuine interest & clear communication buys me influence that no team lunch can.

3. Know who you are communicating with: After writing PRDs, BRDs,User Stories, OnePagers & post-it notes, I have realized there is no correct way to communicate requirements. This is my formula for requirements success in a new team:
– Try a crazy new way the first time; try the latest fad
– Take them to your team & see how every individual reacts
– Tailor your next set to the team
– Repeat
I have had developers in the same team that want a high level vision that they color on their own; while others who want to know exactly where the pixel needs to be placed. Knowing who I am writing for helps save a huge amount of time in repeat conversations.

4. Carry the wounded, someone else will shoot the stragglers: This is the best part of being a Product Manager. I can be the good guy who really just wants a good product. The team listens to my feedback objectively, since I do not hold the purse strings. Nurturing the team is not a part of the job description but the best part of a product manager’s job. I know one day my job will evolve to when I need to shoot the stragglers; I will cross that bridge then.

5. Know what you don’t know: Last but not the least, a point that I learnt from my mentor, is
– Have an ever running list of ‘Stuff I know that I don’t know’
– Strive to strike these items off the list either as things I do not need to learn about or as things I figured.

Being the sharpest guy on the block never hurt anyone. 😉

These are points from an execution oriented product manager… I am going to spend the next few months focusing more on exploring & defining longer term roadmaps & managing upwards. More notes on that, as the diary fills up.