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You don't need all the answers
A mistake I made earlier in my career as a product leader was thinking I needed to have all the answers.
I'll tell you now, it's not a fun place to be.
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It was tiring.
It’s a facade you can’t really maintain.
It saps you of energy and prevents authenticity.
I recall a time at CloudBees where at one point, I devised a product process that I’d convinced myself was an important part of how we needed to scale the PM team effectively.
In fact, it turned out that much of it was convoluted, and burdensome on the team.
I championed it for longer than I should have.
It was a stressful time for me, and I’m sure for those around me.
It was disempowering to the folks in my team.
Logically the process was sound and made a great deal of sense.
But it wasn’t something that I had the buy-in of the team around.
It wasn’t something that I’d involved them in designing and proving out.
It wasn’t effective, and it damaged the trust between myself and the team.
In the end, we found a better way.
Experiences like that taught me a lot about humility and the importance of leaving your ego at the door.
The reality is we’re not looking for leaders to know everything all of the time.
We don’t want them to have all of the answers.
We want to be empowered to contribute in meaningful ways to creating impact.
For most, that’s where satisfaction is found, and where the key lies to motivation.
Thank you to the folks who were honest, genuine and bold enough to call me out on this stuff at the time.
You helped me grow into a better, more effective leader.
And you took an invisible weight from my shoulders.
Reflecting on what was behind all of this, it likely comes down to insecurities and imposter syndrome.
And over the years, I’ve learned that these things are pretty common in the product and growth space.
If any of this resonates, take a step back and think about the situations you’re facing and where it’s really OK to say, “I don’t know; let’s try to figure that out together”.
Until next time!
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