Who cares about the soft stuff?


The longer I live, the more I internalize it: We succeed or fail to a large extent because of our ability to establish and sustain good relationships. Yes, you need a strategy and need to be smart enough, but PMs need to be leaders. If no one is following you, you’re not a leader!

Think about your own career ups and downs. How many of failures are you blaming on others? And how many successes do you chalk up to your own brilliance? I suggest that you take a look inward and you’ll find the seeds of many of the problems you experience in the outside world.

My friend and colleague Michael Papanek has just launched a new blog covering topics that will help you in your career as a product manager. Michael specializes in strategies, skills and tools to implement change. Michael has taught me a ton about collaboration, leadership, and personal and organizational change. If you’d like a sample of his thinking, here are some articles to get you started:

Hearing the hardest feedback

Five steps to giving feedback

Driving success? Try fewer controls

Removing stop signs in your organization

Finally, I interviewed Michael a few weeks ago on what he calls the “Resilient Relationship”. You can hear our discussion here.

Every PM should be thinking about leadership and organizational issues!

– Alan

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3 responses to “Who cares about the soft stuff?

  1. Great post!

    To me, it’s amazing how many people seem to forget this lesson. Recruiting, motivating, & retaining high-performance talent means treating them fairly. It’s not always about the money either! Daniel Pink’s latest book, _DRiVE_, covers this subject quite well.

    I’m not suggesting you’re guilty of this, but I believe the “leadership” meme has done incredible damage to corporate America because so many people think Dominant–as in the DISC profile–characteristics and behavior are what it means to “lead.” I strongly recommend Henry Mintzberg’s _Managing_ because he expertly deconstructs the “‘leadership’ hype” in favor of precisely what you’re talking about.

  2. This is a nice post Alan. I guess most of us forget on giving credit to the people who helped us achieve success when we are given credit for our own success. I find a good way of to measure how much someone is contributing to your own success is to think about the impact he or she will have on you should he or she decide to leave the company. This is where your success lies. Of course, I’m talking from a Project Manager/Functional Manager perspective.