The Lessons of Inspirational Leadership in Product Management  

Updated: Apr 1

The most productive way to impact or influence an organization is to make leadership development the core focus.


There is no limit to what an organization can achieve when it employs good-natured individuals and develops them to become great leaders who inspire those within and outside their organization.

 

COVID’s impact on product management

When we began working from home 24 months ago, we felt powerless. During a pandemic, there was no roadmap for product management, so we controlled what was within our grasp. We worked extra hard, and in some cases, we worked extra hours to hold on to it. As a result, we were impacted by both personal and professional events.


In our personal lives, there were life-changing events we needed to manage and come to terms with. Family members, children, and friends were all impacted significantly by the pandemic. Weddings, engagement parties, birthday parties, and travel that were put on hold.


Professionally, we lost resources that make our cross-functional teams effective, like in-person relationships, closeness to coworkers, partners, teammates, leaders, and dialogues that bring our projects to fruition. In addition, correspondence and partnerships have become more difficult to ascertain, and we became emotionally and mentally drained from utilizing the incessant series of video calls.


Awareness, interaction, support, and the connection amongst multifunctional teams have been disrupted. Consequently, it takes longer to complete projects, training, and workshops. We find ourselves disconnected, irrelevant. Now more than ever, we need inspirational product leaders.


Purposefulness and passion are everything in any organization. A product leader cannot motivate or galvanize their multidisciplinary teams without it. When product management teams are led by leaders who share a passionate, genuine dedication around a common objective, goal, or mission… anything is possible.


As the world is changing so fast, the products our communities need are also transforming, which means we need diverse, multi-functional teams inspired to build products that our communities will use for years to come. However, to do that, they need to meet the world where it is. To achieve this, they need inspired leadership.


What is inspirational leadership?

Inspiration is when someone or something makes individuals want to accomplish something and make a difference through change. Leadership can be characterized as an individual or persons having the capability to affect and guide members of an organization.


Inspirational leadership can then be described as the potential to have a successful impact on our teams, colleagues, and leaders. We can inspire, motivate, and propel our teams towards attaining efficaciousness. Product leaders who practice inspirational leadership can help their cross-disciplinary teams develop their motivation and purpose. This is primarily based on their leader’s comportment, perspective, and approach.


Why is inspirational leadership important in product management?

Leadership and inspiration are entangled. Both are required to motivate interdisciplinary teams, to bring whole organizations together, and thus, bring our product vision to fruition.


We need inspirational product leadership now more than ever. We need the feeling of purpose to propel us. Some of us who have gone back to the office or are scheduled to go back face circumstances and environments that have changed dramatically, and we need to get used to it because this is the ‘new normal.’


Our friends and colleagues have reevaluated their lives and have made different decisions. Some have moved to start-ups, others have moved to larger organizations. Some changed careers, and some even relocated to new cities or out of state. Our product management and interdisciplinary teams need to be inspired. They need to move towards a goal, objective, mission. They need their product leaders to encourage them.


Inspirational product leaders can capacitate their multidisciplinary teams to expand, flourish, and evolve a passion for their projects and how they perpetuate them. These leaders invest and drive the development of brilliant, capable, and diverse individuals that help their organization prosper by strengthening their engagement to build best-in-class products.


There are many benefits to an organization when product leaders practice inspirational leadership. These include:


1. Strengthen relationships

2. Encourage personal and professional growth

3. Communicate product strategy and objectives

4. Drive innovation

5. Collaboration


Let’s go through each of them.


1. Strengthen relationships

The science of human relationships elucidates that we all want to be seen, heard, and validated. One thing that inspirational product leaders do is create a safe space, where team members feel like they belong. These leaders establish an environment where cross-disciplinary teams thrive, where members can bring ideas and concepts to the table no matter how out-of-the-box these theories are. They safeguard that their teams are diverse and include individuals with different geography, lived experiences, backgrounds, and work experiences because they bring distinct perspectives to the table, which is needed when building products for diverse communities with product needs that are changing.


2. Encourage personal and professional growth

Inspirational product leaders recognize that part of their responsibility is to develop other inspired leaders. Therefore, they encourage the personal and professional development of their product management and cross-functional teams, even if it means these individuals get promotions, move on to other teams or roles, and even at times to other organizations.


3. Communicate product strategy and objectives

Inspirational product leaders recognize that the most persuasive and compelling way to inspire and motivate their cross-functional teams is to communicate the product strategy, roadmap, customer and business value, and how it all ties back to their organization’s vision. Then, when there are changes to the product vision, they are transparent about it because it builds a trustworthy relationship with their teams.


4. Drive innovation

Inspirational product leaders provide vision, which moves their multi-functional teams towards a purpose or objective. This means removing barriers, encouraging them to take chances, being brave, and stepping out into the unknown because this is how to build innovative products for an ever-changing and emerging demographic.


5. Collaboration

Inspirational product leaders do not issue pronouncements. Instead, they successfully inspire and galvanize their multidisciplinary teams by partnering with them. They roll up their sleeves and work alongside their teams to bring about productive products. When leaders do the actual work that their teams are doing, it builds trust and respect within their teams because they understand that their leader knows what it is like to be in their shoes.


Final thoughts

Inspirational product leaders lead people forward. They influence and embolden action, which notably increases multidisciplinary team engagements, enkindles imagination, and enhances innovation and inspiration.


Product leaders can inspire their teams by deducing what truly motivates them, and they can draw them in to help build products for all demographics and an ever-changing world. They do this by creating a safe space and enabling them to engage in creativity, innovativeness and ingeniousness, all of which come from going outside their comfort zone. Great teams consist of individuals who are inspired and empowered. They are that because they have product leaders who inspire them every day.