What is Product Leadership and what skills do you need to be a successful Product Leader?
I have published the following materials to help product managers working at all levels to get better at what we do, and to learn and develop:
- things you need to learn how to ‘do’ to become a successful Product Manager – guidance on this topic is published in another repository [Product-Managers-Learn-By-Doing] (https://github.com/alphagov/Product-Managers-Learn-By-Doing/edit/master/README.md)
- things you need to learn how to ‘do’ to become a successful Product Leader - guidance on this topic is published in this repository!
Defining 'Product Leadership'
The Digital Data and Technology (DDaT) Capability Framework describes the role and skills you need to be a Product Manager, across 5 role levels; Associate Product Manager, Product Manager, Senior Product Manager, Lead Product Manager, Head of Product. [DDaT Capability Framework] (https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/digital-data-and-technology-profession-capability-framework#product-and-delivery:-product-manager)
We define Product Leadership as anyone in a Senior Product Manager, Lead Product Manager or Head of Product role. In our experience, Senior Product Manager is often the first role where a product manager is asked to own a vision and strategy for multiple products, take on line-management activities, and engage and communicate with a larger group of more senior stakeholders.
We assume that a successful Product Leader has already developed strong product management skills and been a successful Product Manager.
Key skills for successful Product Leaders
We have defined four additional skills which we expect Product Leaders to develop:
- develop and manage product people
- define portfolio vision and strategy
- understand your organisation
- participate in executive management teams
Each skill has an example set of activities and experiences which add detail and provide tangible examples. You can read the complete list below.
How to use the Product Leadership skills and supporting materials
This list helps Product Leaders to take greater ownership over their personal development, and gives practical examples of the things we expect a successful Product Leader to be able to do.
As well as using the skills to help guide personal and professional development, you can also use them in your local product management community and networks, as the basis for group discussions or workshops.
The list is not intended to be prescriptive, or a test of ability. It is intended to be a guiding framework to support Product Leaders to become the best [#ProductPeople] (https://twitter.com/hashtag/productpeople) that they can be, support other Product Managers in their organisation, and deliver world-class products and services.
Product Leadership - activities and experiences
|Skill||Activities and experiences (You have / you can...)|
|Develop and manage product people||Design and build product teams to be able to create the greatest value for users, in the context of how the business operates|
|Develop and manage product people||Work with other leaders to create the operating environment for multi-disciplinary teams to succeed|
|Develop and manage product people||Advocate and evangelise for products and cross-functional teams|
|Develop and manage product people||Champion the craft and value of product management|
|Develop and manage product people||Manage the performance of other product managers|
|Develop and manage product people||Manage the pastoral care of other product managers|
|Develop and manage product people||Coach and mentor other product managers|
|Develop and manage product people||Be coached and mentored|
|Develop and manage product people||Understand your own levels of emotional intelligence and make a plan for areas to develop (e.g. improving emotional awareness,emotional literacy, and emotional honesty)|
|Define portfolio vision and strategy||Be accountable for the portfolio level vision and strategy for products and services, and ensure this product strategy supports the organisation or business strategy|
|Define portfolio vision and strategy||Lead portfolio level stakeholder management; communicating vision and strategy, and evangelising for the portfolio and cross-functional teams, across programmes and organisations|
|Define portfolio vision and strategy||Manage portfolio risk for products and services|
|Define portfolio vision and strategy||Lead prioritisation of value across services and programmes|
|Define portfolio vision and strategy||Define appropriate product scopes for other product managers|
|Define portfolio vision and strategy||Lead and/or support - as appropriate - strategic decision making (e.g. when to stop, exit or pivot products and services). Where possible, make data or evidence informed decisions. Where making decisions with imperfect knowledge, test and learn. (Strong beliefs, loosely held)|
|Understand your organisation||Understand the organisation's culture. Where necessary support cultural change by working with colleagues from across the organisation|
|Understand your organisation||Understand the organisation's governance and assurance processes, and how to use them effectively|
|Understand your organisation||Understand the organisation's business units and management structures, and influence their evolution to support transformation|
|Understand your organisation||Help business operations and finance teams, to understand the challenges of working to outcomes over outputs (e.g. return on investment is fixed but method of reaching it is not)|
|Understand your organisation||Be willing to challenge the organisation's processes and structures, if they are not supportive of agile ways of working, and delivering value to users|
|Participate in executive management teams||Participate in executive management teams|
|Participate in executive management teams||Participate in the development of the organisation or business strategy|
|Participate in executive management teams||Champion the delivery of value to users with a focus on outcomes|
|Participate in executive management teams||Support an environment of open channels of communication between executive management teams and cross-functional delivery teams|
|Participate in executive management teams||Show the value of product management as defining value (defining value = the Product Manager's Unique Selling Point). Provide product management subject matter expertise as a specialist skill amongst a team of generalists|
|Participate in executive management teams||Influence other leaders to achieve the best outcomes for users, the business, and cross-functional teams|
|Participate in executive management teams||Influence other organisations (internal and external to Government) to achieve the best outcomes for users, the business, and cross-functional teams|
|Participate in executive management teams||Navigate in-work politics and help to shield cross-functional teams from this noise|