Every week, I talk to product managers who went to top-tier schools and had great jobs at top tier companies yet are struggling to become a successful product leader. They are doing everything by the book but cannot seem to get that promotion.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Based on the Carnegie Foundation data, only 15% of your professional success is correlated to your technical (hard) skills. The other 85% is the ability to connect, persuade, and gain influence and respect from your boss, colleagues, others. 

If you’re competing against product managers and leaders who are all roughly perceived as equal in the technical skills, your ability to connect with others is the only differentiator. 

Whether you are competing for a promotion or a new job, you must have the ability to connect with others.

How can you build this sense of connection at work? Let’s walk through two tools.

Pay attention

Pay attention to the way people are reacting to you. It’s harder to gauge this when you’re communicating virtually, yet you will still receive responsive cues from others. If you notice someone tuning out – like when they stop looking at the camera, start typing, or they’re not nodding at all or asking any questions – you may have to turn up your energy to keep their attention. 

Paying attention to others increases the sense of connection. For example:

  • Giving each person in the room a voice
  • Recognizing good work
  • When you are speaking to others, look them in the eye
  • Do not multi-task
  • Treat everyone as equals.  

Positivity

Positive energy is both underappreciated and probably most misunderstood. Energy is the dynamic you create in your interactions. It’s essential to have the kind of energy that energizes other people. It’s a question of having the presence of mind to understand what is necessary in the moment. For example:

  • Be positive and energetic. But make it authentic. When negative things are happening at work, ask yourself and the team, “what could be good about this?”
  • If others in the room are stress and upset, manage your energy to be more empathetic.
  • Do not bring negative, condescending energy to work. Others will end up feeling disrespected, and you will not be seen as a leader.

As part of my Inspired Product Leader Programs, we spend time working on tools to build connection with your product and cross-functional teams. When you can make this sense of connection, people will see you as a leader, and your career will accelerate. You will be given the top products to work on, along with getting promoted and a seat at the strategy table.

If you are ready to learn how to LEAD in product management, and build a connection with your team, schedule a complimentary breakthrough session. We’ll create a strategy to enable you to stand in your power and start to LEAD.

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