Learn how to go from “gear head” to “group head.”
Two spheres of capabilities are needed for product managers to be successful. One is competency in the processes, practices, and tools of product management. That is where I spend much of my time helping product managers and teams.
The other sphere is competency in what is often called the soft skills and aligned with leadership. It is this sphere that many people find more difficult to master, especially those of us from technical backgrounds. But, without these competencies, you are severely limiting your potential.
My passion is inspiring and equipping product managers and leaders. To that end, this is one of the most important discussions we have had yet on this podcast. At one point in the discussion with our guest, my passion for helping you and other product managers came out in the form of a few tears. Hopefully, that will make sense when you hear it.
My guest is Paresh Shah, who is pursuing his passion of helping engineers transform into innovators, intrapreneurs, and inspiring leaders. Paresh taps into his experience as a mechanical engineer, Harvard MBA, serial entrepreneur, leadership coach, and other roles to inspire you to future-proof your career, innovate more efficiently, and advance faster.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[3:02] Tell us about your program and how it came about.
Product managers are the nexus in companies because they work at the intersection of many functions from engineering to marketing. As companies want to become innovators, one of the primary areas we advise CEOs to look to is product managers. Product managers are the least appreciated, most overworked, and most talented resources many companies have. Few people know what they do and they rarely have management authority over the people they’re expected to corral. They are the people who can create innovation and transform a company’s culture.
[11:55] How do you help product managers become leaders?
We have created the 7 7 7 leadership transformation model. The idea is to transform gear heads into group heads. Group heads are leaders in an organization, the people that others always go to for help, even if they don’t have direct reports. We help organizations solve four big problems every organization faces: disruption, employee motivation, customer trust, and alignment of purpose and social responsibility. Only 3 in 10 employees are motivated and engaged by their work. Group heads are the most motivated people and create an innovation environment around them. They also have a likability and a believability that resonates with customers and vendors.
[17:15] What is a lifter leader?
Lifters exhibit the mind shift of consequences and are attuned to authenticity. We help people get out of their own heads and develop empathy to listen to customers and authenticity and integrity to inspire people who work for us. In the future hopefully, we’ll be able to monitor these skills just like we can analytics on a dashboard. Lifters are ordinary leaders who elevate their customers, their coworkers, their community, and their companies in the process. We identify the 7 great strengths and the 7 blind spots that gear heads have, and deliver the 7 essential upgrades that are needed to go from gear head to group head.
[23:12] What are the 7 great strengths?
Gear heads are great at problem-solving, being detail-oriented, analysis, innovation, working independently, being action-oriented, and critical thinking. We love solving problems and getting into the weeds to figure out what’s going on. We like putting things together and seeing our products out there in the world making a difference, but we’re often not as skilled at working with people, who are much more variable than products and technology.
[25:00] What are the deadly 7 blind spots?
As humans, our greatest strengths often lead to our greatest blind spot. These are the things that end careers and create roadblocks: poor communications, micromanagement, lack of customer centricity, missing business-human tradeoff, weak conflict management, limited creativity, and not inspiring relationships. We train people how to move from IQ to EQ and understand the human elements necessary for success. All of the skills we teach help you in your relationships, as well as with your work. Once you understand these skills, people will appreciate you more. Learning how to relate to people is like learning a new programming language. Our hearts are something we can use to make connections our brains can’t. There are 8.3 million new STEM grads each year who are much more technologically advanced than people already in the workforce. Empathy and the human connection are what move a career forward.
[39:34] What are the 7 essential upgrades?
The 7 essential upgrades are being a lifter leader, creating productive dialogue, creating non-obvious innovation, strategic agility, macro management, storytelling, and managing the human wild card. The whole idea is to line up the 7 7 7 like a slot machine. We help people celebrate their strengths, identify their blind spots, and implement these upgrades. This method is only going to become more important as AI piles on top of the 8.3 million new technical grads coming out of universities around the world each year. Not all of these new grads can learn these group head skills. If you get the lifter leader mentality, you will be far ahead of them. If you are one of the people who can bring people together to build great things and motivate people, you will future-proof your career.
- Special resources for TEI listeners from Paresh
- Gearhead to Grouphead Academy
- Lifters are everyday leaders who elevate their Companies, Customers, Communities and Our World
- Paresh’s company, the Non-Obvious Company
“Being well-rounded is for wheels and marbles. As a human, I’d rather show up lumpy.” -Paresh Shah
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 out a fellow product manager by sharing it on your favorite social network.