What is Meant by Product Leadership? (+Action steps)

Elevating your business above the competition can, at times, seem challenging, but guess what, it’s not impossible. There are three value disciplines needed for market leadership: operational excellence, product leadership, and customer intimacy.

Operational excellence is all about delivering the best performance. In comparison, customer intimacy focuses on customer service.

But what is product leadership all about, and how does one incorporate it into the business? 

Companies that choose Product Leadership as their customer value proposition are telling the marketplace, “Choose us because we deliver the best, most innovative products and services to the marketplace.” Product Leadership companies prioritize delivering the most innovative product or service to the category, focusing on research & development (R&D), human resources and a talented workforce, having lean admin costs and very low bureaucracy costs.  

Before answering this question, you must bear this statement in mind “that there’s more to a product than its quality alone when it comes to product leadership.”

Your company must up its branding game and be innovative-driven. Moreover, your team must also focus on improving product development and design; let’s call this product leadership.

Besides innovation, your company must perform continuous research to gain insight into new trends. Only then will you be the first to respond to both unconscious and explicit customer needs.

Remember, product leadership is not a one-time event. Once you’ve come up with superior products, your goal is to create a culture whereby your company continues to offer similar quality. Once you perfect the art of product leadership, your company will have the standing to set premium prices.

Typically, product leadership is a go-to strategy for businesses with a younger target audience. These include Apple, BMW, and Philips.

How Do You Become A Product Leader?

Successful product leadership requires a specific skill set and knowledge to help them effectively manage products, easily spot opportunities, prioritize, and deliver the right products at the right time. To become a great product leader, you must have the following traits.

1. The right leadership style

Believe it or not, leading products require a different leadership style from general business leadership. Therefore, while you must motivate the team and promote collaboration, you must also effectively communicate the strategy and plan. Only then will your team engage and take ownership, leading to product success.

Remember, being a great product leader is also about acknowledging failure and knowing when to take on a different path. For this reason, it’s essential that you continually evaluate your experiments to make better decisions.

2. Ability to drive innovation

To become a great product leader, you must know which processes you need to accelerate—for instance, identifying whether you’ll need a prototype to determine feasibility and encourage quick execution of innovative concepts.

3. Sound judgment

You are likely aware of the importance of data in decision making from user research to competitive intelligence. A great product leader knows how to interpret this data to make sensible product decisions. Moreover, in instances where information is either insufficient or lacking, such a leader should make a sound judgment.

4. Business acumen

This trait is perhaps the most straightforward in this list; after all, you are running a business. With the world still facing a pandemic, the business environment remains uncertain. It is for this reason that a product leader must be business savvy. For instance, a product leader must understand the ecosystem and its navigation by knowing the suitable pricing structures and business models.

5. Knowledgeable across fields

The success of any product relies on teamwork and input from various departments, including marketing and operations. While it is okay for your team to have a specific skill set, product leaders must have cross-domain knowledge from user experience to technologies.

Examples of Great Product leaders

If you are interested in learning more about excellent Product Leadership companies, two of the best ever are Intel and Chevron. They don’t get much better, and would be worth studying how they have developed their website home page and supporting pages, such as Intel’s current main sales page, or Chevron’s Media and Technology pages.  

Intel

There is no question Intel is a household name. And there is no question they are a leader in technology. They strive to be the most innovative technology company in the world and they communicate this aggressively.  Land on their homepage and the main message is: “Laptops. Evolved.” If that doesn’t speak of innovation, nothing does.

Chevron

You may not equate an oil company with innovation, but Chevron is a Product Leadership company. Everything about their homepage speaks to the development of new, world changing technology delivering better, cleaner energy to consumers worldwide.

10 Steps To Help Your Organization Execute Product Leadership Successfully

If you wish to drive your product leadership forward, here are a few actions that’ll help you realize your vision.

  1. Prioritize metrics. Determine which metrics are beneficial to your Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and make them a priority.
  2. Develop soft skills like negotiation and communication to improve product management
  3. Build a teamwork culture
  4. Communicate team members’ roles clearly by developing a product roadmap
  5. Learn how to manage external distractions
  6. Drive collaboration to promote innovation and quick problem-solving
  7. Embrace creativity. Some product leaders tend to focus on authority over imagination. Learn how to balance by embracing improvisation.
  8. Be willing to learn. To improve your management skills, you must learn to listen and learn from your team.
  9. Increase budget for research and development
  10. Improve customer satisfaction through more quality marks of products

An effective product leadership strategy can increase your customer base and save you from costly marketing campaigns. 

To succeed, you must have the right skills and mindset. 

Finally, to guarantee effective product leadership, you must remember that it is not a one-time event; instead, it’s about creating a culture.

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