Do you ever feel out of alignment with the decisions that are made?  For example, do you work for an organization whose mission is to improve productivity, but your personal mission is to ensure equity in the world?  Being out of alignment with what is important to you versus the organization is a significant stress for product managers.

First, there are organizational values.  These are the values that define who the organization is and what it stands for. 

Second, you also have individual values as a product leader.  These values guide your decision making and behavior—for example, transparency, trust, and collaboration.  

To truly love your job, you need to have alignment between your personal values and the organizational values. The more out of sync they are, the more uncomfortable you will be at work.

Leadership and Values

Leading and making decisions based on values can reduce the confusion, conflict, and many hours wasted spinning in meetings and decisions. When we lead and make decisions based on values, there is suddenly a clarity and consistency in how product-based decisions are made.

Take the First Steps

So how do we lead and make product decisions based on values? First, we need to know our values, the values of our organization, and understand the state and interaction of both.  Use the following as a guide. 

  • Is the work you do already noticeably guided by a combination of these personal and professional values? If not, why do you think this is?
  • Are the values threaded strongly through the culture and climate at work?

Second, start to leverage your values when making product decisions.

  • Be transparent. Leading and making decisions in a values-based way often has massive upsides, one of which includes transparency. However, with transparency, there is extra exposure around who you are and what you stand for. How you make decisions and the values driving these decisions becomes public.
  • Look out for how you’re feeling. In particular, look out for when you’re feeling comfortable with decisions you’re making or how you’re behaving and feel uncomfortable. Feelings of comfort will often show you that you’re aligned to your values. Feelings of discomfort often highlight the opposite. 

As a product leader, you don’t have to be perfect – but people need to understand your decision-making framework. Your team needs to understand you, what you stand for, and in essence, what drives you.

People like to follow a leader who knows what is most important to him or her. This is how you grow in the world of product management. Know your values. Live your values.  And work in an organization where your values align with the company values.

The last step…go innovate and LEAD!