Product Thinking
Striving For Mindful Leadership with Sam McAfee
March 16, 2022
Melissa Perri welcomes Sam McAfee to this episode of the Product Thinking Podcast. Sam is the founder of Startup Patterns, where he coaches teams and leadership how to attain the human skills necessary in successful product transformations. Melissa and Sam discuss how to strengthen emotional intelligence, how to hone your leadership skills as an IC, and what a truly courageous leader looks like.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Sam talk about: Sam talks about his induction into the field of product management and his professional background. [2:00] Mindful leadership is being able to grow and collaborate with your teams while also paying attention to what you're thinking and feeling as a product leader, and using that information to enhance and enrich your interactions with others. [8:46] The biggest red flag in terms of leadership skills, Sam cautions, is overworked employees. "The reason why that would be a red flag is that it is an indication that there isn't a clear prioritization, or there isn't a clear vision.” This can lead to burnout. [10:43] The first step in building mindful leadership skills is taking time out of each day to reflect. Reflection builds emotional intelligence, which helps build empathy. Leaders who reflect often slow down and observe their own thoughts and behaviors, making them proactive rather than reactive. [15:00] To practice mindfulness as a leader, start observing people's behavior and words. During your interactions with others, try to see things from their perspective, and imagine what they might be thinking or feeling in those moments. Having the courage and compassion to ask others how they're feeling is also an important part of mindful leadership. [21:00] One of the key things in helping product management hone leadership skills is making sure that the product team is aligned in their purpose and objectives. Building relationships is another important aspect. "A product manager needs to have a really good relationship with everyone on the team; they need to understand what people skills are, what their motivations are," Sam tells Melissa. Having curiosity about your people and being intentional with gathering information about everyone's strengths in order to leverage them properly will do wonders for you as a product leader. [27:20] Leaders have to know when to relinquish control. This requires courage and vulnerability but it is important in order to properly transform the work culture within organizations. [32:44] One vital part of courageousness in leadership is saying no to what isn't essential. It is the job of senior management to figure out the vision, decide strategy and then convey that to the rest of the organization, and also to prioritize what is important and what isn't. [35:57] Sam shares what leaders should be looking for when trying to grasp strategy and product initiative. He shares the importance of observing the markets you're in when deciding on strategy. [38:16] Resources Sam McAfee | LinkedIn | Twitter Startup Patterns
Melissa Perri welcomes Sam McAfee to this episode of the Product Thinking Podcast. Sam is the founder of Startup Patterns, where he coaches teams and leadership how to attain the human skills necessary in successful product transformations. Melissa and Sam discuss how to strengthen emotional intelligence, how to hone your leadership skills as an IC, and what a truly courageous leader looks like.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Sam talk about: Sam talks about his induction into the field of product management and his professional background. [2:00] Mindful leadership is being able to grow and collaborate with your teams while also paying attention to what you're thinking and feeling as a product leader, and using that information to enhance and enrich your interactions with others. [8:46] The biggest red flag in terms of leadership skills, Sam cautions, is overworked employees. "The reason why that would be a red flag is that it is an indication that there isn't a clear prioritization, or there isn't a clear vision.” This can lead to burnout. [10:43] The first step in building mindful leadership skills is taking time out of each day to reflect. Reflection builds emotional intelligence, which helps build empathy. Leaders who reflect often slow down and observe their own thoughts and behaviors, making them proactive rather than reactive. [15:00] To practice mindfulness as a leader, start observing people's behavior and words. During your interactions with others, try to see things from their perspective, and imagine what they might be thinking or feeling in those moments. Having the courage and compassion to ask others how they're feeling is also an important part of mindful leadership. [21:00] One of the key things in helping product management hone leadership skills is making sure that the product team is aligned in their purpose and objectives. Building relationships is another important aspect. "A product manager needs to have a really good relationship with everyone on the team; they need to understand what people skills are, what their motivations are," Sam tells Melissa. Having curiosity about your people and being intentional with gathering information about everyone's strengths in order to leverage them properly will do wonders for you as a product leader. [27:20] Leaders have to know when to relinquish control. This requires courage and vulnerability but it is important in order to properly transform the work culture within organizations. [32:44] One vital part of courageousness in leadership is saying no to what isn't essential. It is the job of senior management to figure out the vision, decide strategy and then convey that to the rest of the organization, and also to prioritize what is important and what isn't. [35:57] Sam shares what leaders should be looking for when trying to grasp strategy and product initiative. He shares the importance of observing the markets you're in when deciding on strategy. [38:16] Resources Sam McAfee | LinkedIn | Twitter Startup Patterns

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