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Product Managers can create a shared sense of purpose to empower high-performing teams.
This is where you make your move from product manager to product master. That is the move to being a product leader in your organization or the organization you want to work with. Being a leader involves creating vision and providing meaning to those you work with. It is the topic of Fred Kofman’s new book, The Meaning Revolution: The Power of Transcendent Leadership.
Fred is a leadership development adviser at Google and former vice president of executive development and leadership philosopher at LinkedIn. He earned his Ph.D. in advanced economic theory at U.C. Berkeley and taught management accounting and control systems at MIT for six years before forming his own consulting company and teaching leadership workshops for major corporations and 15,000 executives. Sheryl Sandberg writes about him in her book Lean In, claiming Kofman “will transform the way you live and work.”
- Why organizations lose
- How organizations can win
- The 3-part framework for creating a meaningful culture, and
- How product managers can deal with conflict.
If you are on the path to being a product master, you’ll appreciate Fred’s genuine approach to becoming a leader.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:10] Why do organizations lose?
Organizations lose because they’re not set up to win. Most people do not set up what their jobs are and the organization distracts them from doing what their real job should be. On a sports team, the job of every person on the team is to help the team win. But, if you ask the players, they’ll tell you something specific based on their role. The same thing applies to businesses. The goal of every job is to help the organization win but most people would tell you their job is to sell or to design or something like that. This is how silos form. Everyone in the business should be aligned toward the same organizational goal, but that is usually not the case.
[13:08] What is the Meaning Revolution?
It’s based on the book The History of Scientific Revolutions, which says that science operates within a paradigm and that paradigm changes when exceptions arise. For example, Einstein found that Newton’s equations didn’t apply to gravity when you get closer to the speed of light so he needed a new theory. The anomalies move science forward. The anomaly in business is the difference between global and local performance. Organizations are being asked to measure individual performance and organizational performance. The solution is to infuse the organization with something new, which I’m calling meaning. It’s a combination of collaboration, pride, and excitement — a shared purpose and a sense that everyone is playing a part in a larger goal.
[21:52] How do you communicate to employees that they are part of something larger than themselves?
This is the difference between camaraderie and friendship. You don’t need friends in a performance-driven field, you need people who will challenge you and hold you accountable — things that friends might not do. If you’re not pulling your weight on your team, you need people who will tell you that. Doing so will create a high performing team and a sense of camaraderie that’s much deeper than friendship.
[24:08] How do you create a culture of camaraderie and performance?
It has to cascade from the leadership. You have to define the standard/mission, demonstrate the standard so you don’t create cynicism, and then demand that others in the organization also follow that standard. People in the organization should also know what they can demand of a leader; they should feel empowered to call out things that they don’t feel are in line with the mission.
[28:15] How can product managers deal with conflict?
Every conflict in an organization should be a collaborative conflict. Two people might disagree about specifics, but they should be aligned with the overall goal of the organization. Once that foundation is set, you can discuss your differences around the specifics and come to a reasonable conclusion. It might involve trying a few approaches to validate each person’s point of view and how each approach fits with the overall mission.
- Fred’s LinkedIn Profile
- Fred’s numerous posts and videos regarding leadership
- Fred’s book, The Meaning Revolution
- Slideshow explaining… Not OKRs but Leadership: The Meaning Revolution.
“You don’t have to drop out to have a meaningful life. You don’t have to sell out to be successful in business.” – Fred Kofman
Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help a fellow product manager by sharing it on your favorite social media network.