The Lessons of Using Your Leadership Voice
Updated: Feb 17, 2022
Using your leadership voice means providing a light in the dark. Change can only transpire when these lights burn magnificently, preparing the way for others.
This past year has brought with it many lessons. One of the biggest for me is the value of using my leadership voice to give back to the product management (PM) community. I finally realized that my voice was already there, and it didn’t need any changes - I just needed to subsume the power I had.
Reflection on the past year
2021 began with ambiguity. Like many others, our organization had been home for 10 months already due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I was wondering what life post-pandemic will look like, if I’ll be able to travel abroad and or even go back to the office. I missed my colleagues and friends so much and I could not wait to see them, hear their voices, and hang out with them like old times.
As the weeks and months passed in early 2021, I had to finally face the reality that we would not return to work until 2022. At the same time, my friends and colleagues were reevaluating their lives and making different decisions than they might’ve if the pandemic never happened. Some were taking chances and moving to start-ups, others moved to larger organizations. Some changed careers, and some even moved to new cities and out of state.
I remain in awe of their choices as they are all taking chances, closing chapters, and beginning new ones. Even in some cases stepping into uncertainties and into uncharted territory. They were not waiting for opportunities to be created for them; they were stepping into their purpose and chartering a new course for themselves.
As my friends and colleagues were making different decisions with their lives, I realized through deep contemplative introspection that I wasn’t creating opportunities for myself; I was waiting for someone else to do it for me.
My own 2021 journey
So, in early February, I used my leadership voice by writing my first blog about The Importance of Leading During Tumultuous Times. That one blog led to many, which also shepherded many product talks, podcast interviews, fireside chats, PM certification instructor roles, and eventually my very own website. Since the launch of my site, I have even launched my podcast series to help tell the stories of everyday product makers who create product magic.
What has surprised me is that by using my leadership voice and sharing my own stories, I have been able to help shape the next generation of product leaders. In essence, I am helping to make the road easier for them, and in some cases where there is no road, I am helping to construct one.
As the months went on, blog after blog, product talks after product talks, people both within my organization and outside it were reaching out to me confirming they felt the same anxieties and feelings of imposter syndrome, and were looking for tools on how to manage it. Some were recent college graduates looking for advice on navigating their first PM role and mentioned how my blogs on mentoring young women, authentic leadership, cultivating alliances, and building coalitions have helped them further hone in their product management skills.
Using my leadership voice to support the product management community has enriched my life as well. I have been able to build long-lasting connections and relationships with other product managers and leaders. I have conceptualized ideas that will continue to affect my sagaciousness for the rest of my life unequivocally. Giving back to the product community has allowed me to further sharpen my leadership skills and character.
Gratitude to my product management community
This past year has been humbling for me. It’s with profound gratitude and humility that I write this final blog of 2021. To anyone who read my blogs, heard my product talks, fireside chats, and downloaded my podcast interviews - I want to say thank you.
If by any chance I helped to inspire the trajectory of your journey into product management, I’m profoundly grateful for the privilege to share what knowledge I’ve acquired both professionally and personally. I hope I made the road easier for you and the next generation of product makers.
To Product School, thank you so much for creating opportunities for product management leaders such as myself to tell my stories and insights through blogs, speaking engagements, and teachings. Parul Goel, thank you for creating a podcast series that empowers women to use their leadership voice and bring to light unseen battles to help the next generation of leaders.
Women In Product (WIP), thank you so much for providing a platform that capacitates PM leaders to utilize our leadership voice to make the path slightly easier for the next generation of women product managers.
To Localized, thank you for inviting me to participate in fireside chats on how to become a product manager, I am honoured to help shape the next generation of product makers. Elpha, thank you so much for republishing my blogs, and Thomas Xu, thank you so much for inviting me to share my PM wisdom that I have attained during the course of my product management career.
As a senior product leader with many years of experience in the industry, I have grown to be a leader of character who views leadership as an endeavour in service. I’ve become an effective leader who works hard for her cross-functional teams. I take great care to help build up the people around me by encouraging them to dream big, and flourish into more. However, I am only the efficacious product leader I am today because other people used their leadership voice to light the path for me.
Because I once relied on the work of other product leaders, I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to use my leadership voice to help shape the next generation of product makers. I look forward to making the transition easier for them, or even blaze the path forward. Afterall, when we use our voice, we can create everlasting change that impacts future generations to come.