What Do Product Leaders Do? (and How Can I Become One?)

Career paths for product folks are murky, with most of us falling into product management accidentally. Opportunities for advancement can be just as unclear. How do we think about product leadership roles, and how might we pursue them?

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What Do Product Leaders Do?

Product leaders look after teams of products managers, and sometimes designers or developers. What do they do, and how is it different from the individual product managers on their team?

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The Product Leadership Career Ladder

I talk with lots of senior individual contributors about the risks and challenges of moving “up the ladder” into product leadership roles.  Here’s a survey I fielded to capture their top questions and concerns about getting promoted.  What do product leaders do? How do product managers signal their interest in becoming one?

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Sept 23, Cleveland workshop: “Moving Up Into Product Leadership”

This half-day workshop digs into Product Leader roles with job definitions, skills-building, exercises, and a safe place to ask candid career questions. Is Director of Product Management the next job for you?

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October 16 & 21, Melbourne/Sydney workshops: What Do Product Leaders Do, and How Can I Become One?

An all-day workshop for product managers thinking about moving up the product org chart, and for newly promoted product leaders. We will cover what product leaders do, how to signal interest in that role, and discuss its upsides/challenges.

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Paying It Forward: Product Camp SV Keynote

A short talk about Paying It Forward and the important of personal networking in the product management community. I share three personal vignettes to highlight value of personal networking and ways we can all Pay It Forward to build an even stronger product community.

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Product Camp: Getting Promoted to Director

This Product Camp discussion focused on career ladders for product managers, what directors do that’s different from their individual contributors, and how to signal your interest if you want that next job up. Several participants raised real-world issues, and product veterans sharing their hard-won points of view.

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Market-Facing Skills for Product Managers/Owners

Product managers (owners) need to drive market acceptance and actual user adoption, not just on-time software delivery. What market-facing skills does this demand?

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Metrics for Product Career Schools?

Various product management schools, workshops and certificate programs strongly suggest that attendees will get jobs as product managers. Success metrics seem critical here, but are notably missing. “Of the people who’s already spent thousands of their own dollars on this course, how many are now working as product managers…?”

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Products That Count Podcast

A podcast with SC Moatti, founder of Products That Count. We discussed technology product management roles, career ladders, the critical need for cross-functional communication, how incentives shape what our peers do, and when a startup hires its first full-time product manager.

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