...and what that leadership title really means.

First, a leadership title doesn't mean you're a leader.

Titles are used by many organizations to determine reporting structure and it's often assumed that once you meet the coveted "supervisor" and beyond titles, you're now a leader. While that is true for some, I have found more leaders without any title, than those with one. The endless leadership books you purchased and post about on social media, quote to your friends and proudly display on your shelf but didn't ACTUALLY read don't mean you're a leader. As much as we would all love to learn by osmosis, you need to read them, keep and put into practice what works for you. The motivational speech with no follow-up action doesn't make you're a leader. Leaders are those speaking up for their peers, going out of their way to always do more, asking the hard questions and leading through action rather than by finely curated speeches quoting books they have't read.

What action are you taking to ensure your product is a leader in the market? Have you done the research, read the reports and worked to put into action what your users want? Or, do you have a fantastic pitch deck with a subpar product hoping to somehow get engagement. When it comes to action, product leaders know how to show their's is the best and let it speak for itself.

Second, don't assume everyone wants to "climb the ladder".

Success looks different for everyone, leaders lean into what that is for each person and help to get them to that version. Some of my most anxiety ridden work experiences have been by leaders who assume that everyone wants a new title, more money and direct reports. That's absolutely a goal for many, but not all. In the worse case scenario, pushing some to move up when they don't want that responsibility might mean loosing them as an employee.

So when it comes to products, ask yourself, do you want it to "climb the ladder?" If so, is that what your users want? Iterating and developing new product features is great, however, done too quickly or because the internal team decided it was needed rather than asking the users if it was wanted can lead to a fast fail that's tough to recover from.

Finally, Your employees don't work for you, you're there to work for them.

My goal as a leader was to help each and every person achieve what they wanted to achieve. For some, that was leaving to go to another job or excelling at their current role. For others it was being promoted, and for a select few it meant getting a new degree and changing careers. I was there for them, no matter their path, because that is the role of the leader to help them find their success.

I approach product strategy in the same manner, I want you to achieve your business goals. Your product may have started as your vision, but rest assured, if you're not here for your customers, you'll fail. Knowing what your end user goals are with your product from the start will help ensure iterations are keeping inline with what success looks like for your users and your business.