The one thing you can't fail at each stage of your PM career
Introducing the "Role's North Star"
At each stage of your PM career, there is usually one single thing you can’t fail. All else you might get from terribly wrong to spectacularly well, but they will not impact as much on the outcomes of your products and team, or your performance, as this single thing. I call it your “Role’s North Star”. Let’s dive in:
𝐉𝐮𝐧𝐢𝐨𝐫 𝐏𝐫𝐨𝐝𝐮𝐜𝐭 𝐌𝐚𝐧𝐚𝐠𝐞𝐫: learning. It’s all about soaking information, mental models, frameworks and operating procedures.
𝐏𝐫𝐨𝐝𝐮𝐜𝐭 𝐌𝐚𝐧𝐚𝐠𝐞𝐫: stakeholder management. From knowing when to say no, to managing expectations on timelines and scope.
𝐒𝐞𝐧𝐢𝐨𝐫 𝐏𝐫𝐨𝐝𝐮𝐜𝐭 𝐌𝐚𝐧𝐚𝐠𝐞𝐫: instrumentation. As you grow the size of your bets, measuring the right indicators will define your success. Making measurement scalable (instrumentation) makes you standout.
𝐋𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐏𝐫𝐨𝐝𝐮𝐜𝐭 𝐌𝐚𝐧𝐚𝐠𝐞𝐫 (or Group PM): operationalising the machine. As you start managing people and larger areas, your focus should transition to the machine that builds the machine.
𝐇𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐨𝐟 𝐏𝐫𝐨𝐝𝐮𝐜𝐭: coaching. You’re probably managing the PM area, maybe even PM managers. Coaching becomes your leverage secret. Coaching is how everyone becomes better and faster at delivering results.
𝐕𝐏 𝐨𝐟 𝐏𝐫𝐨𝐝𝐮𝐜𝐭: hiring bar-raising people. You’re directly responsible to staff the team that will get the company to the end goal. Beyond guaranteeing resources, you’ll be measured by how good these new resources are in comparison to everyone who’s already there.
𝐂𝐡𝐢𝐞𝐟 𝐏𝐫𝐨𝐝𝐮𝐜𝐭 𝐎𝐟𝐟𝐢𝐜𝐞𝐫: communicating, focused in vision and strategy. Your communication can move mountains. Succeeding = communicating the feeling of getting to the peak (vision) and the decisions that need to be made to get there safely (strategy).
Now the trickiest part is that, at any point, you might need to perform multiple “Role’s North Star”, both up or down.
Success of a product manager means solving the problem, and rarely you get there without doing all ☝️