Team coaching and mentoring Product Management for high performance
A Product Leader or Strategic Marketer who has established themselves in a key leadership position, quickly realise the challenges that managing up and across the organization can bring.
For Product Managers and senior leaders, the ability to demonstrate the soft skills required to effectively communicate and manage multiple stakeholders in the organization, is often an underestimated skill.
This is not about becoming the bosses best friend, it is about emotional intelligence – understanding ourselves and others and stepping through the sometimes subtle (and not so subtle) political minefields that exist in most organisations, so that you can effectively execute your objectives.
Few Product Managers receive specific support in the area of Leadership Development. They are often sensitive to their position in the organisation they find it challenging to discuss their leadership concerns with other peers in the same business.
So how can executive coaching or mentoring help Product Leaders and what is the difference between “mentoring” and “coaching”?
- Mentoring often involves seeking advice and expert recommendations from an individual, so it is potentially more prescriptive in its approach. It can be very useful for someone coming to terms with the responsibilities of a new role and who wants to work with someone who has performed this role before. So a product manager, for example, might seek advice on approaches, tools and methodologies that could support them in executing on their role objectives
- Coaching is essentially about empowering people by facilitating self-learning, personal growth and professional development. It requires the individual to take control of their situation, with guidance and support from a coach (typically external to the organisation), to help them to achieve their objectives. It is future and strengths focused. It can be particularly useful in supporting someone who is seeking to move into a new role or who is looking to develop in an existing position
The following are 5 key areas where executive coaching and/or mentoring may be beneficial to both you as a Product Manager and to your organization:
Team Development: Add value, influence others
“If everyone is moving forward together then success takes care of itself” Henry Ford
As a Product Manager or Strategic Marketer you have the capacity to add huge value to the business. Working with a coach can help you to recognise and articulate your core strengths and capabilities and will help you to maximize these in your day-to-day interactions. Often, a lack of self-awareness, a lack of trust in others or a lack of understanding of your own and other people’s role can lead to relationship difficulties. It can be so easy to retreat to our trenches and adopt a stance based primarily on misunderstanding. Although we may often be part of a bigger team, we may not take the time and effort to understand the value that each member in the organization can bring. Remember, no man is an island, you need other people as much as they need you – great companies are built with great people, who develop strong relationships and who can work well as a team. Team coaching can be a great way for product teams to understand their compelling purpose and to work on the key elements that drive high performance.
Career Development: Progress to a position of greatness as a Product Leader
“It is not what happens to you that determines how far you go in life; it is what you do with what happens to you” Zig Ziglar
Whether you want to develop in an existing role (as a Product Manager or senior leader), or you are moving into a new role, it is so important to understand your own career objectives, whilst also being mindful of the organisation’s objectives. Working with a coach can help you to understand your core competencies, to leverage strengths and to address weaknesses. Often we need to take time out to think about the forces that work for and against us in achieving our objectives and to address challenges that might present themselves along the way. Having clarity on the role we perform today and the role we want to perform tomorrow is so important. Sometimes, negative thoughts or beliefs are barriers to personal and professional development and a coach can work with you to address these and help you to move forward.
Self Awareness: Understand yourself and others
“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far” Daniel Goleman
Identifying your management style, your strengths, capabilities and weaknesses, alongside understanding the management style and capabilities of others, will help you to develop as an individual and strengthen team interactions.
Conflict can often occur when you your objectives and approach are misaligned with others in the organization. Developing as a leader requires that you are mindful of how your approach can positively or negatively influence others. Working with a coach can develop your self-awareness and emotional intelligence, helping to firmly establish you in a position of strength within the business.
Leadership: Demonstrate what’s possible
“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality” Warren Bennis
Many leadership roles are multi-faceted – Product Management is a good example, it requires good communication, a strong focus on commercial aspects of business development, an ability to multi-task, the capacity to lead and above all the capability to deliver order from chaos. Often the product manager is a solitary figure with no direct reports but they communicate with and require support from many people in the organization. Although many product managers feel they don’t have the authority to make decisions, they do have the capacity to influence strategic leadership decisions and should demonstrate bravery in guiding the business towards greatness. Working with an executive coach can help you to focus on the values, strengths and resources that will enable you to deliver on your objectives. Seeking advice from a mentor who has faced similar challenges to you can also be hugely beneficial. We are all on a journey of continuous learning – reach out to others who have made mistakes and learned from them and who can support you in your development.
Communication: Make sure you are heard as a Product Leader
“Write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow” Laurence Clark Powell
It is so important for members of a leadership team to support alignment, guide decision-making and ensure everyone is moving in the same direction – good communication plays a huge part in this.
Having a clear and compelling Product Strategy can be part of the answer.
Keeping lines of communication open within the organization and with the outside world is such an important part of a product manager’s role. Working with a coach will help you to understand and manage your own communication style, to work with others who may have a different style and to help you deliver the right messages in the right way. A good leader drives positive, reaffirming interactions with those around them.
I have years’ of experience as a product management mentor working with clients from across multiple industry sectors. I am also a certified team coach and adopt the Rocket Model and 6 Team Conditions in my practice with product teams.
Contact me @ email@example.com for more details on how I can support you to drive high performing product teams.