The last 12 months have been pretty wild. The scope of my role as a product manager has basically scaled 3x in the last year. I’ve gone from leading one mobile product team to leading three product teams across mobile and web tech stacks. I’m learning a ton, and doing good work, but also failing in some ways too.
As my role has scaled, everything else has scaled too:
- I make more decisions
- I provide more feedback
- I coach more people
- I say “no” more
- I say “yes” more
- I gather and disseminate more information
- I meet with more people
- I allocate more resources
I do more of everything. And as I do more, I’m learning about my own limitations as a leader and influencer of teams.
My strengths are magnified– but so too are my weaknesses. I’m learning that I need better systems for personal time management, making decisions, communicating across teams and projects, and more. As I have leveled up, I’ve had to level up my systems too.
There’s one thing I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. I’ve been asking myself, “How can I do more, and scale more and influence more, with the same amount of time?”
I think I know the answer. It comes up again and again. It’s a lesson I’m learning and will continue to learn.
As a product manager, the highest leverage thing I do is provide clarity and context for the individual contributors on my team. And then, once they have their clarity, push as many decisions out to the edge as I can.
Good clarity and context create an environment where your team can do their best thinking and make their best decisions. Clarity empowers the people closest to the work.
If our team has clarity on our goals and constraints, we can operate from a shared set of first principles.
To do this, you have to be generous. Generous with trust. Hire smart people and default to trust. Trust them to make the right decisions.
Generous with information. Bad leaders use information to control people. Good leaders use information to empower and equip those under their influence.
Generous with trust. Hire smart people and default to trust. Trust them to make the right decisions. Armed with the best information they can do their best work.
Generous with feedback. Sometimes a team member makes the right decision but it results in the wrong outcome. Be generous with your feedback. Create a culture on your team where it’s normal and encouraged to look back on what you’ve done to determine what you might do differently next time.
Leaders of all kinds apply leverage.
Create clarity and give context so your team can do their best work. That’s where the leverage is. That’s what I’m learning right now.