Product leadership refers to a cross-departmental approach to making an organization’s products a success. It is not one singular role but a collection of responsibilities shared by department leads, managers, and even C-suite employees.
Product leadership doesn’t refer strictly to a Product team, nor does it refer to a Product Manager or Product Owner who leads the team. Instead, product leadership is a cross-department strategic concept that operates at a holistic level and is responsible for nurturing an environment that delivers products that delight their customers.
Product leadership is important because it gives Product Managers and teams the strategic guidance and bandwidth to focus on building better products.
With the high-level management of the development process taken care of by product leadership, PMs are free to do what they do best — and the same goes for Product Owners.
While product leaders can hold almost any role — including C-suite roles such as the CEO or CTO — their goals are broadly aligned.
They care about creating a culture within the organization focused on delivering outstanding products in the most streamlined way possible. Unlike more hands-on roles such as Product Owners, members of product leadership will focus on more high-level tactical activities, including:
Taking part in the hiring process for new members of the product development team.
Managing product development budgets.
Ensuring that product development roadmaps align with long-term business objectives.
Making certain that Product teams have all of the tools and resources they need to deliver better products.
Communicating with senior leaders within the organization.
It’s clear that product leadership isn’t just one thing but rather a combination of responsibilities that essentially sets the stage for a smooth product development process.
But to actually make this happen, product leaders have to put specific strategies in place. While all companies are set up differently, here are three examples of specific tactics the product leadership might use to create positive product environments for Product teams.
Product teams will look to product leadership to answer questions and offer guidance on topics that can be specific and technical. For this reason, product leaders should be subject matter experts in their industry.
Sometimes, Product teams can become siloed and end up not seeing the forest for the trees when it comes to their output. A product leader can act as a third party to monitor the team’s structure and ensure productivity (and processes) line up with delivering results.
Great products don’t just appear overnight — they’re the culmination of teams working, learning, and growing together. This is why great product leaders should always try to create a product-centric culture conducive to collaborative working.