Unleash Your Leader Within with Slack’s 1st ever PM

Some people are born leaders. Some people become leaders. But what is certain is that leadership comes from within. Our expert voice Kenneth Berger spends most of his time discovering leaders in startups. He was the first ever Product Manager at Slack, also worked at Adobe so he knows the highs and lows of the industry.  Here, he offers his set of 4 leadership lessons for PMs to become that essential figure others can rely on.

kenneth-berger-product-school-managementKenneth Berger is an executive coach with 10+ years background in tech product management.  Most notably, he was the first PM at Slack. As a founder at YesGraph and longtime PM and M&A lead at Adobe, he’s lived the entire tech lifecycle: from founding to growth stage to maturity and acquisition. Today, he focuses on helping startup executives and product managers achieve their career goals and fulfill their real potential.


Leadership Lessons

What is leadership? Kenneth answered this question and shared his insights and hacks on leadership. The first thing you need to do is “let go of being right”. Being right is not the focus of your job as a product manager. He also talked about how to be effective, how to get stuff done, how to communicate and influence.

Kenneth Berger’s leadership lessons in a nutshell:

  • “Leadership doesn’t come from reading a book or from some skill that you’re missing”.
  • Think about all the beliefs that are limiting your potential as a leader.
  • Leadership Lesson #1: “Listen to your gut”.
    • If after eight years of working in the same job, your gut starts telling you that it’s not what you’re supposed to be doing anymore, you should listen to it.
    • If your gut tells you that something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right.
    • It can be scary because you would have to step out of your comfort zone, but it’s worth it.
  • Leadership Lesson #2: “Let go of being right”.
    • Think about what your job is exactly. Is it really to be right and win arguments or to make the company successful?
    • A product manager’s primary job is to build a great product, team, and company.
  • Lesson Lesson #3: “Name the elephant in the room”.
    • Sometimes what you think your job is as a product manager, can be different from what the CEO/founder thinks it is. Addressing any issues helps the situation.
    • If you don’t name the elephant in the room, it will get bigger.
  • Lesson Lesson #4: “Choose a perspective where more is possible”.
    • After being laid off, don’t feel sorry for yourself and get stuck.
    • Choose the perspective you take on the world.
  • Leadership comes from within. It’s something you are, not what you do.

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