I have been thinking about this a lot. We are all aware of the experiences and skills a Product Owner/Product Manager needs. But a Product Leader needs more than those “horizontal skills” to succeed in his or her organization. Here come the ones SPLSG believes are the most important:
- Large Organization – A Product Leader needs to navigate in large structures. Typically matrix organizations and very senior stakeholders are something that requires personal experience.
- Large Team – Managing 3-5 Product Managers is relatively easy. But what happens if you are responsible for larger teams? If there is a hierarchical layer between you and your (practitioner) Product Managers? Not to forget: The Engineering Team also becomes quite large. Very quickly a Product Leader needs to steer 50-100 Engineers. You will need a personal leadership experience of that size to succeed.
- Business & Market Acumen – You need to have a commercial drive to customers and how go-to-market works. As a Product Leader, you cannot leave this to others. You need to actively contribute & challenge your peers and the CEO.
- Strategy/(Business Model) Innovation – Building features and only looking a couple of months ahead will make your company fail sooner or later. You need to be able to conceive a future, describe it to your organization. You should have done this a couple of times already.
- Stakeholder Management/Evangelization – Perhaps the most important one. You need to not only sell your product but also influence the decision making of your stakeholders. Beware the stakeholders of a Product Manager are not automatically the same as the Product Leader’s. You will need many years of stakeholder experience on a senior level to succeed.
- Processes/Organization/Product Development – This is the “bread and butter” of a Product Leader. No shortcuts, no excuses. Organize & deliver – together with your Tech counterparts.
- Agility/Entrepreneurship – Build-measure-learn is the mantra. But not only on practitioner level, but also on an organizational level. How to be agile/entrepreneurial in a context that is built for a predictable future? If you have never have seen this from inside out, you will have difficulties. But if you aren’t having this as a strong driver, you won’t be passionate enough to make it happen.
So, how many boxes do you tick as a Product Leader? Is there something important missing in this list? Please comment – We are looking forward to your thoughts!