Product Management 101: you don’t make it; you make it happen

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

You are the Product Lead. You are responsible for the product.

In the words of Peter Drucker:

Authority without responsibility is illegitimate, but so is responsibility without authority. Both lead to tyranny.

So, ideally, you have both authority and responsibility. You are held accountable for the outcomes that your product generates and given the final word on the decisions that affect them.

I have explained why the Product Lead role is a balancing act. Add that to the notions of accountability and responsibility, and we can start sketching a slightly more accurate vision of the position.

Entering the danger zone

You are equipped with these considerations and a substantial amount of stress. You must prove your worth. You love your product. You love your job. You want to succeed.

Around you, a team of excellent professionals, and you trust them to execute the tasks you give them with a high standard of quality.

They must execute your master plan, right?

But they can’t possibly grasp the full extent of what you are trying to accomplish, right? Only you live and breathe through this product, right? Any failure will be your fault, right? Or your success if it works, right? They must execute your master plan, right?


Attempting to control everything and dictate instructions is the wrong approach and a recipe for disaster.

Leaving the danger zone

You must remember that every person in your team cares about your product as much as you and is more skilled than you in their specific role. They all know aspects of the business, the customer journey, and the infrastructure you ignore.

They are your best source of ideas. Your role isn’t about telling them what to do. It is about setting clear goals and key results, coordinating, removing obstacles, and helping your team be the best version of themselves.

You do not make the product; you make it happen.

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