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Issue #36: An important love letter to Leaders and Managers, how to influence without authority, and 5 things
Hola friends! 👋
This week’s thoughts and feelings include:
An important love letter to Leaders and Managers (tl;dr do better!)
(FAKs or Folks.Ask.Kax) How do you influence without authority?
5 things to help you this week
Holy cow! This is the 36th issue and there are nearly 500 people reading my words every week! In the grand scheme of things it doesn’t seem like a lot, but let me tell you that for me, IT IS A LOT! 😱
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1️⃣ An important love letter to Leaders and Managers
“If you want to get promoted, go get noticed, or be more proactive. Im not going to do the work for you”
A fellow manager told me this some time ago in our semi-regular “therapy sessions”. A call I have with my fellow-manager friends to have a safe space to talk about the things we struggle with. (Do you have a support system at work?)
While I do agree with this statement, I also don’t.
Here’s why I agree:
I agree because as reports, we have more control over our career development than we think. And putting our heads down, working hard, and waiting for our managers to take notice just won’t cut it anymore.
I have shared with my coaching clients who find it difficult to get promoted the importance of:
Promoting one’s achievements
Being visible and having a network of allies
Finding more opportunities to deliver value
Exploring opportunities outside of their immediate scope
The importance of already behaving in the way that’s expected of the role that they want to get promoted into.
But this is why I also disagree:
As leaders who are people managers, part of our responsibility is to develop our team and support them in their careers!
We need to:
Give clear expectations and objectives
Help them create a development plan so they can level up
Coach them so they can perform to the best of their abilities
Help them find opportunities to shine if they can’t find it themselves
So they can learn to spot for themselves growth opportunities next time
As leaders and managers we have as much accountability over the growth of our team as they do. While we are not responsible for their actions and the decisions they make — we are responsible for making sure they have the right guidance, constraints, and tools to do what they need to get done. What they do with that is up to them.
And you know what, the success of our team is directly proportional to our success too!
If they’re not equipped with the right tools, this will impact their delivery. Probably the most obvious impact of them all.
If they’re unaware how to navigate their careers, they will not grow in the organization. Which can lead to dissatisfaction. And dissatisfaction can lead to people leaving.
If they feel unsupported, they will complain. And this complaint can impact other people’s mood and morale. An unhappy, demotivated team is not something I would wish on my enemies!
Besides, if your entire team is growing and levelling up, watch your opportunities grow too!
So if you’re seeing that you’re not promoting anybody in your team or if your team is coming to you wanting to be promoted but you can’t.
Unless there’s just a complete budget issue that’s outside of your control, before thinking that it’s completely in their hands to make the promotion happen, ask yourself first:
Have you shared concrete expectations with your report so they understand what they need to do to get promoted
Have you given feedback to your report so they understand what gaps they have that they need to work on to get promoted
Did you help your report create a development plan so they can identify the right opportunities that can help them be visible, get noticed, and be more proactive in finding more value to the organization?
If your answer is no, then you need to start taking responsibility for your team’s growth and promotion.
If your answer is yes, check again if you could be clearer or provide even more support to your report.
And if you’ve done everything there is to be done, and your report is still unpromotable — it’s time to understand why.
In none of these options I just gave do I say “then well done, you’ve done everything you could and that's all there is to it”.
We took the role as leaders and managers. The work doesn’t end with:
“well… it’s their fault”.
Often when my clients come to me with “my manager is not doing this”, I help them see a different perspective. So that they can look at how their behavior impacts their lack of promotion or growth so they can drive transformation from what they can control.
But here’s a reminder for leaders and managers out there - we need to empower our team not just in their day to day but in their careers too!
So dear reader,
Do you believe that you’re ready for promotion but you’re struggling to convince your manager?
Or are you a manager struggling to provide support for your team so they can work on their gaps and be on the path of career growth?
2️⃣ (FAKs or Folks.Ask.Kax) How do you influence without authority?
As Product Managers, we’re expected to influence greatly a lot of things in our organizations. Namely priorities, decisions, and more.
But I think there’s a misconception that we lack authority in our roles.
And I think that misconception is rooted in the belief that authority is attached to a level/position in the org structure. While yes, this is authority. I think that this is merely one form of authority.
People, regardless of our position in the corporate food chain, will have authority. Authority can also be rooted in our knowledge and expertise.
If you’re working in a company building products for fishing enthusiasts, and you have an extensive knowledge on all things fishing, and people know it, you can bet your ass they will come to you for feedback if not ideas for solutions.
We all have authority. The question probably is do people know that you are an authority in whatever topic you are an expert in? If not, get socializing.
Another misconception is that authority (in whatever shape or form) is enough to influence people to go towards a certain direction.
Typically when people are resisting something, it’s probably because of 2 things:
All they can see are what’s the cost/risk they need to assume
Without clarity on the benefit they stand to gain
So if you’re struggling to influence people to take a certain action, here are 2 questions you can ask yourself:
What’s in it for them? - if it’s all loss and nothing to gain, then it’s time to ask yourself if this is the right direction to take in the first place.
Why should they believe you? - if you yourself can’t find the reason to why they should believe you and everything you’re saying, why should they?
Every week, I answer questions about Product Management, Leadership, and Career Development from my newsletter subscribers and Twitter/Linkedin/Instagram followers. If you have questions that you would like me to weigh on, please do send them to me by replying to this newsletter, sharing in the comments below, or sending it to me via private messages :)
3️⃣ Five things to help you this week 🤓
Speaking of managers doing better, Cristina and Jenni from Lead in Public write about the importance of following-through on building trust with your team.
Speaking of influence, Julie Zhuo shares inhow we can present information convincingly
What I’m complaining about lately - Zoom CEO wants employees to come back to the office because it’s hard to build trust remotely. (Can somebody send him the company’s mission statement please?)
A lot of the women in my network talk about wanting jobs in sectors that they believe in (health, education, science seem to be common themes). Bunsen, a design studio working with science startups have open remote roles! Check them out.
Last week I got the chance to be invited to Phil Araujo’s podcast, digital leadership decoded. Where I talk about my brand of leadership, balancing autonomy and hand-holding, and more. Apparently I also talk about my moral framework and made a lot of faces 😂 (Tell me what you think after!)
Before you go!
Are you struggling with your job search right now? Your application is being ignored? You get feedback along the lines of “We’re just looking for somebody with more experience”. Get my ULTIMATE GUIDE for creating a Sustainable Job Search system for the Modern Product Manager. My newsletter subscribers get a 10% OFF 😎
See you next week!