How to become a Product Leader

22 Dec 2022
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Written by:
Danielle Bowman

How to get my job is our career podcast series on Linkedin and Spotify where we sit down with amazing people within the Design and Product industry and ask them how their careers started, evolved, and what advice they have for those coming after them.

In episode 6 of the series we speak with Chiedza Muguti, an experienced Product Leader who describes how she went from starting out as a Business Analyst to becoming a Product Leader.

How did you get your first job in Product Management?

Chiedza started out as a Business Analyst and in her 3rd year at the University of Brighton, she ventured in the world of work full time for 12 months. Having real-life experience brought not only brought her course to life but helped her build a network and support system within a company that proved invaluable as she retuned after graduating and after a few years, moved into Product Management.

What are the most important qualities a Product Leader could have?

Empathy is a big one. You are dealing with many stakeholders and teams that are under a lot of stress as the success of the company usually relies on the success of the product. Being empathetic and understanding of where everyone is coming from will help ease some of those anxieties and foster a sense of comraderie. This involves taking the time to really understand everyone's point of view, being mindful of how you react as well as anticipating situations. Having enough empathy to think beyond the present and dealing with difficult situations with grace and patience is really important. There may be a lot of decisions you need to make that aren't always going to be popular so it's vital to be understanding when approaching those difficult conversations.

Practicing humility is also another key quality to have as a 'product will humble you on a daily basis'. In other words, when you think everything is going to plan, mistakes and problems happen and remind you that there is still a lot to learn. Humility will also serve you well when managing people. Many employees want to be able to relate to their colleagues and managers and be reassured that it's okay to sometimes make mistakes. Lastly, being able to zoom in and out is important. Even though you are mostly owning the strategy and vision, it's important to sometimes zoom in to the details to make sure things are being built properly. Knowing when to take up space and giving people the room to work independently and not feel micro-managed will help you nurture and attract a great team of Product Managers.

'You need to be an excellent communicator'

This goes without saying, as a Product Leader you have to work with everybody and you need to always try to get the best out of those conversations to arrive at the best solutions. Being a great communicator will help smooth out any conflicts and keep the common goal in focus, and hopefully, within reach.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever been given?

A manager once said to me, “Chiedza, you’re a natural leader, but you will only do your best when you are yourself.”

“When you are authentic, you can use all of your energy to do great things and do a great job.”

Watch full episode here

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