Becoming a Conduit for Your Organization: Lessons of a PM
Executives, Product Managers, VP of Sales and Marketing, Business Development Managers, Operational Managers, and other organizational leaders all have one thing in common: Their ability to influence people.
When many people set out on their journey to learn how to influence people, they often look at many different areas. Sales and Marketing leaders will often focus on finding needs or wants and connecting to the solutions to their prospects. Operational Managers will look at employee motivation, tools, and resources for success. However, Product Managers often take a much different, maybe even a more "Agile", approach in how they influence people.
Fast changing technology and organizations trying to adapt often seek a "Flatter" view of their organization chart. In turn, this means many different groups that historically had minimal direct interaction, such as Finance/Accounting and Sales/Marketing, now have much more interaction. To become holistic in approach, while reducing gaps and streamlining communication, one role has begun to emerge as a conduit between groups or roles in organizations. The PM. Analyzing offerings and aligning to key initiatives, gathering requirements and establishing an MVP, iterating and tracking success metrics, and many other essential job functions require accurate information from all departments in an organization. Due to the job requirements, and the ability to influence others through interactions, it is becoming more and more common for Product Managers to be viewed as the CEO of their product or portfolio.
Now, more than ever, it is imperative to have a highly adaptable and well-rounded Product Manager.
What Makes a Highly Adaptable and Well-Rounded Product Manager?
More specifically, the ability to speak, and more importantly listen to, the language of all groups or roles. Impactful Communication is becoming just as integral as a successful PM trait as is being analytical, organizational, and tactical.
Examine a traditional organizational chart/pyramid. What is one common trait as many individuals are promoted up the "ladder"? Impactful communication. Daily the Executive Suite speaks much less than 90% of the organization. Their time is instead spent listening, analyzing, thinking, watching, reading, aggregating, and then impactfully communicating.
What should a growing PM focus on to create Impactful Communication?
Listen more, and with an open mind
Speak only after you have listened to many views, or gathered as much information as possible
When you do speak, be concise, thoughtful, and pointed toward helping bridge any gaps in communication and to supporting key initiatives
Be a conduit. Connect and align everyone to the same common goal.
In short, while being an analytical thinker and a tactical operator are necessary job requirements, the more strategic a Product Manager can be the more likely they are to truly support the organization and provide value.