Fifteen Rules of Great Product Leadership
Updated: Jul 15
Table of Contents
Great product leaders reveal themselves through the people and products they build.
At the heart of a team or organization that creates product magic is an exceptional product leader who thrives at people management and product leadership, simultaneously building people and products.
Here are my 15 rules of great product leadership:
1. You must be liked, trusted, and respected to be an effective product leader.
Being liked, trusted, and respected is crucial for success as a product manager. Being liked builds rapport, trust enables effective communication, and respect garners authority. In addition, these attributes facilitate collaboration, inspire stakeholders, and foster a culture of innovation and growth, which are essential for achieving business objectives and delivering customer value.
2. Being a product leader is a humbling opportunity and a privilege as you build consequential products that will impact your customers' lives.
You can solve real-world problems, improve people's experiences, and enhance their well-being. It is a unique and rewarding experience to have a direct impact on the lives of others through the products you build.
3. It is an honor to come to work and shape your customers' lives, direct reports, multi-disciplinary partners, and leaders.
It is an honor to shape your customers' lives, meaning you’ve been entrusted with creating products that meet their needs and solve their problems. Customers often trust product managers and the products they build to help them navigate their daily lives, achieve goals, and improve their overall well-being. Therefore, product managers must be empathetic, diligent, and proactive in meeting customers' needs.
4. Building people means bringing out the best in your colleagues and magnifying everyone‘s voices, ensuring they are heard and validated.
Ensuring all team members are heard and validated is essential for several reasons. First, it fosters an inclusive culture where everyone feels respected, valued, and appreciated. Second, it encourages creativity and innovation and promotes trust and psychological safety within the team
5. Use your leadership voice to bring out change. Do not be quiet when you are faced with injustices or inequalities.
Using your voice as a leader to bring about change and speak up against inequalities is essential because it can help drive positive change within your organization and the broader community.
6. Hire from diverse communities so your teams and organization can represent your customer segments.
Diverse team members in product management are important because they bring diverse perspectives and experiences that can help identify new opportunities and drive innovation. Additionally, it helps to ensure that products are developed with the needs of various customers in mind, allowing you better to understand the needs and preferences of different user groups and build products that solve them equitably.
7. Use your position to lift others up as others have done for you.
As a product leader, it's essential to recognize that success is not just about individual achievement but also about empowering others to succeed. By fostering a culture of collaboration and inclusivity, providing mentorship and guidance, and advocating for the voices of underrepresented groups, we can use our position to lift others up and create a more equitable and successful industry.
8. Cultivate relationships, and build allies, as they help you get through the most difficult days and challenges you might face.
Cultivating relationships and building allies are important because it provides a support network for navigating challenges. Allies offer fresh perspectives, feedback, and guidance, which can help make better decisions and overcome obstacles. In addition, relationships can provide emotional support, advice, and resources.
9. Be passionate and always curious about your product.
These attributes allow you to be a productive product leader. In addition, these qualities will help you to galvanize your cross-functional teams and motivate your entire organization to rally around your product and its objectives.
A product manager must be passionate and curious about your product. First, a deep understanding and enthusiasm for your product can help you identify and prioritize features. Second, passion and curiosity can fuel creativity, inspire innovation, and drive a product forward.
10. You must have exceptional communication skills to bring your product strategy and vision to fruition.
Exceptional communication skills are necessary to bring a product strategy and vision to life. They enable product managers to convey complex ideas clearly and compellingly, build alignment and enthusiasm among stakeholders, and ensure the team works towards the same goals.
11. You are a Chief Storytelling Officer.
You must communicate through storytelling. But you need it to travel through your cross-functional team members. Engineering, design, technical support, customer success, marketing, and sales must be able to repeat the story.
Storytelling is important in product management because it helps to create a shared understanding of the product vision, communicate the value and benefits of the product, and connect with customers on an emotional level, leading to better engagement and adoption of the product.
12. You must master the art of collaboration.
A product manager must master the art of collaboration because product development involves cross-functional teams and multiple stakeholders. Collaboration ensures everyone is aligned on the product vision, goals, and priorities. It also fosters an environment of open communication, idea-sharing, and mutual respect, leading to better decision-making, more innovative solutions, and, ultimately, a successful product. Additionally, collaboration helps build trust and relationships, which are crucial for effective teamwork and achieving business objectives.
13. Recognize and accept that you do not have all the answers; you do not want to have all the answers. Instead, you want to work with team members to find the best solutions so you can solve problems for your customers in a defining manner.
Working with your team to find the best solutions for your product is important because it promotes a culture of collaboration and innovation. Instead of having all the answers, a product manager should facilitate brainstorming, encourage diverse perspectives, and foster an environment of experimentation and continuous learning. This approach leads to better outcomes, empowers the team, and builds problem-solving skills.
14. Make sure you are giving back to the product community by helping to shape the next generation of product leaders.
It's important to give back to the product community and help the next generation of product leaders because it helps to create a thriving and collaborative industry. In addition, sharing knowledge and experience can help aspiring product managers develop their skills and networks.
15. Always say thank you.
As a leader, saying thank you is important because it shows appreciation for team members' hard work and contributions, builds morale and motivation, and fosters a positive and supportive work environment. It also helps to strengthen relationships and trust between the leader and the team.