Product leader? But my job title is…

Who is a product leader? Who needs a product leader? Are you having those million dollar questions as well? If yes, that’s a good sign. You are scratching the surface to a transformative journey!

As Donald McGannon said, “Leadership is action, not position”. The same is true for product leadership. People often get caught up with titles—their own and other’s and hence quickly start siloing things around that on what is and what can be. As a result, instead of synergies, there are fragmented outcomes.

For instance, let’s consider the following conversations:

  • My title is UI developer and I need to provide colorful interfaces. But wouldn’t it be nice to think of end-to-end customer experience that would delight the user and then decide on the interface?
  • I am a Product Manager and the list of requests from my top customers has already exhausted my roadmap for the next 6 months. I really have no time and budget to look at any other areas. But wouldn’t it be nice to solve more pervasive problems for these top customers and others?
  • Oh, I am an architect and at all costs I need to ensure we can keep the current legacy technology stack running for current solutions and (hope to!) keep it intact as we expand. But wouldn’t it be nice to evaluate new options and changing trends to instead build solid foundations to meet your needs today and adapt tomorrow?
  • But, I am an engineering manager and I have a sea of deliver deadlines to meet and ensure quality. I cannot look at customer requests. But wouldn’t it be nice to bring in a customer-centric lens to work with cross-functional teams to deliver high quality solutions for right problems using delighful experiences riding on a solid technology on time, in budget?

Sometimes titles seem to restrict people in what they can bring to the table. However, with the right mindset that can be easily overcome. If you are part of a team that builds products, you need to think like a product leader—there are no two ways about it!

It is a mindset:

  • To solve pervasive problems that the market is willing to pay for to have those solved
  • To provide delightful experience to customers
  • To meet and exceed value expectations of customers
  • To make judicious choice of technology that allows for the above as well as provides power for tomorrow (e.g. through ability to expand, providing meaningful additional information through analytics, etc.)
  • To provide a solution that is easy and delightful to use!
  • In short, to look beyond to-do lists and have create-value lists!!

Building that mindset is a great start; and to bring it into action requires the right skillsets to do it well. For instance, you could think of it as instead wanting market-driven product management, user-centric design, reading and riding technology trends, using best-practice delivery practices and so on.

With the right mindset and skillset, you can put yourself into the trajectory to ride from your job title to being a product leader! If you are a product guy or a product gal, and want to be a good one at that, you ought to think like a product leader! Delivering releases and building lovable products has a subtle but important difference—the difference of mindset, a product mindset. Irrespective of whether you are contributing in building products from India for local or global companies for local or global markets; irrespective of the role you play; if you see things beyond the lenses of product releases and delivery and are instead driven with an eye to building meaningful products for customers; you are a product leader!

With the first million dollar question answered, the answer to the second question is really short! Now that we know the kind of magic a product leader can do; anyone who’s in the business of building products needs product leaders!

  • If you’re a product company making global products, you need product leaders
  • If you’re a service company with thriving services business, but are looking to build great platforms that not only allow you to take the best to all your customers, but also monetize it better; you need product leaders
  • If you’re an entrepreneur running a start-up for local or global customers, while you are focussed on managing funding and selling of the product as you build it, you need to also play the role of a product leader! And as you grow, you need a team of product leaders!

    And the reason is simple – customers buy loveable products; and businesses thrive when customers buy more lovable products!

    True to its core mission, PLF 2015 is focussed on helping you get there—to become a product leader! At PLF 2015 you can expect to be immersed in candid conversations with experienced practitioners on a series of hand-picked topics to help build the right skillsets and the right mindset! PLF 2015 is the single stop shop where you can move to the zone where the magic happens to accelerate your career path!

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