When we say that Product Managers “lead through influence,” most people think of building rapport with the execution teams to ensure that you have the personal and professional leverage required to get them to do something without challenging things for their own reasons. But that’s really only a small piece of the overall leadership puzzle, and in many ways it’s also the easiest part — assuming that you know something about the market, that you know something about the users, and that you know something about the problems they’re facing, most of the “management” of delivery teams will come rather easily over time.
Where things get trickier, and where many of the career land mines lay for the unwary Product Manager, are those who sit above you — those in leadership positions within the organization. They often have (or claim to have) more product knowledge than you, more market knowledge than you, more customer knowledge than you, and more direct authoritative power than you. Knowing and understanding how to build your own relationships with your leadership team is an essential skill for the successful Product Manager, and here are a few tips that you can use to ensure that you’re growing your influence among the leadership team and not ceding your limited authority to that team.