Leaders can be divided into two main categories: authoritative and authentic. They represent opposite ends of the leadership spectrum. Authoritative leaders act from a position of power that hasn’t necessarily been earned. Authentic leaders act from a position of influence that has been earned.
In his role as Senior Project Manager at Amazon, Tim Leehane is a big believer in authentic leadership. Why? Because it works. Authentic leaders build better teams, empower people to reach their goals, and get things done.
In this virtual event, Leehane shares wisdom from his own authentic leadership journey. Here are some of the key points he shared.
“Product management is by definition a leadership role. Being able to influence a cross-functional team requires authentic leadership. And the only way to influence people who don’t directly report to you is by listening. How do you align your goals, what are the team members’ objectives, what roadblocks and challenges are they facing, and why?”
“It’s a priority. It’s not time carved out on the calendar. It’s the little moments in between. I always arrive on time for meetings, so I can chat casually with people who are also on time. I walk and talk between meetings. I also make sure I go to lunches, or birthdays, and other staff functions. That’s where you connect with humans in your organization.”
“It’s about trust and compromise. With new projects, you often get to a point where you have to decide whether or not a feature will make it into a product. You have to pull all the pieces together to report on progress and get input from the team without being a burden. That process of meeting someone halfway is important. It builds a place of trust and respect.”
“As product managers, we’re often told that we’re the CEO of the product. It’s our baby, but that’s not entirely true. We have no real authority, but lots of accountability. You start giving out orders, send it to the engineers, and then they push back. Your instinct is to push back even harder. The key is to listen because they’re pushing back for a reason.”
All About the Soft Skills
“Product management is a lot more about soft skills than I expected. For a long time, I thought the professional and the personal life were kept in separate boxes. But the more I’ve combined those two the more successful I’ve been.”
Want to hear more from Tim? Be sure to check out the virtual event replay above!