As a Product Manager or Product Owner or any other product leadership role you have to be a leader of the product development. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you are the manager of any of the people you lead (most of the time you are not). But you need to earn their respect and strong collaboration.

So what does it mean to lead in product development?

Let’s first take a look at this classical picture:

So what does this mean from a practical standpoint when you are a product leader and how you collaborate within your development team?

Personally I believe it is very important to thoroughly explain your reasoning. You should see your priorities and decisions as something you sell to the team. If they don’t believe your course of action is correct you will listen to them to understand their reasoning. Quite often it will there objections will be valid so you might change your mind. If you don’t change your mind you might need more time as a team to make sure you have you have a solid understanding of the situation – at least if it is an important decision. If it is a smaller decision and some of the team members are on your side (and it is clear that it is your decision) you might need to go ahead. But always make sure to check the temperature in the room so the team is with you on decisions.

I also think that it is helpful to compromise every once in a while. For example, if the team feels that it is very important to focus on a technical issue and you believe it is slightly more important to do that new feature, but it is a close call, it makes sense to once in a while let the team win. It will boost morale and from a product stand-point you have lost very little. If morale is high the output will be so much better so as a company it will be a win-win. Besides, you might also be wrong, because it is very hard to fully grasp technical issues when you are not working in the code yourself.

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