In these two talks from MTP Engage Hamburg, Thor Mitchell, Head of Platform at Miro, and Holly Donohue, Chief Product Officer at Purple, share two different perspectives on the mental qualities you need as a Product Manager. Watch the two sessions in full below or read on for the key points.
To kick us off, Thor spoke about the value of humility. He argues that although humility seems to conflict with many of the traits we associate with leadership, such as confidence, decisiveness and authority, it is in fact essential for a leader.
How can we cultivate humility in our work? He offers a 5 point plan:
- Assume you’re dispensable
- Learn from anybody
- Handle the menial
- Embrace being wrong
- Absorb blame
Throughout the talk, Thor encourages us to see humility as a sign of strength, rather than a weakness. It doesn’t only make you a better product manager, but can also improve your mental health. He also argues that there are no right answers in product management: only the best answer available to you at the time. So if things don’t turn out the way you hoped, you’ll learn something new, which can help you do better in future.
Holly spoke about resilience. She argues that resilience is often misunderstood. People often think of resilience as resisting bad feelings, or having a thick skin. Instead, she offers a different definition: being able to be happy and successful again after something bad happens.
To develop your resilience, Holly suggests three strategies:
- Build awareness
- Gain perspective
- Take positive action
For each strategy, she offers a specific method to put it into practice. For example, to build awareness she suggests a simple 20-minute exercise where you write down each of your thoughts as they come to your mind. Holly also offers a model to map out the connection between your beliefs and the actions you take. By doing this, you can gain a crucial perspective and change dysfunctional patterns.
Taken together, Thor and Holly’s talks share a common insight. Mental strengths like humility and resilience are often seen back-to-front. Although it’s intuitive and socially encouraged to project strength and minimise bad feelings, it can make you weaker in the long term. Humility isn’t a weakness, and resilience isn’t about relentless positivity. The Product Manager who understands this is in a much better place to succeed in their work.