In the AMA session for MTP Leaders, Leadership Coach, Hope Gurion joined our very own Emily Tate, Managing Director at Mind the Product, to discuss how to lead empowered teams and enable best practices such as continuous discovery and autonomous decision making.
Watch the video in full or read on for the key lessons learned:
- Set the overall goal and work with teams to reach their outcomes to build empowered teams
- Be clear about the benefits of empowered teams and advocate a team model pilot to make the model a priority
- Step in where necessary, but allow teams to make their own mistakes to ensure continuous discovery and learning
Building empowered product teams
Hope opens by explaining that it’s important for empowered teams to feel accountable for the choices they make. They must also be working towards achieving a clear outcome.
When looking to build empowered teams, Hope explains that it must be routed in for these teams to make evidence-based, customer-centric decisions and work as an actual team. She adds how they must value each other’s expertise and bring in key insights to their leaders. It’s key for empowered teams to have the best understanding of what they can deliver to their customers.
To ingrain this culture, Hope explains that as leaders, we must not only set the overall goal, but we must also work with teams to reach that goal.
There’s been an increased amount of competition to build the right teams now more than ever, Hope explains. “When leaders look to hire, it’s important for an organisation to have an example of an empowered product team,” she says, “prioritise what profile you want and work towards building that.” Find people who are naturally curious and tend to use all information they have when making decisions. These traits are key for accountability and autonomy.
Making empowered teams a priority
Working towards building this model can sometimes face resistance as people are used to their previous respective strategies and cultures. Hope says to be clear about the benefits of empowered teams, and about how the status quo can be problematic.
In addition, she says, “don’t try and change everything at once,” doing this can give teams too much to deal with. She recommends advocating a team pilot model where one team tries the new way of working. Individuals can then relay their thoughts to other teams. If it’s working well, then you can start to scale it out to other teams that may respond positively to it, then gradually build from there.
Identify allies in the leadership team to push this agenda forward, Hope explains. Find those who have come across the model before. Alternatively, look for those who have felt the pain of not having empowered decision-making teams. Find those and take them on the journey to push the initiative forward and support you.
Asked how to deal with challenges up ahead that you can foresee as a leader, Hope explains that you need to expose those issues with your team to ensure those risks are mitigated.
She explains how it’s an uncomfortable situation for leaders to step in, as it’s important for teams to feel like they can make decisions all the time. However, some decisions are high-stakes that require leaders to step in and offer advice. On the flip side, she explains that for those non-high stake choices, it’s important for teams to learn from their mistakes by encountering these challenges that may be foreseen by leaders.
Even if you have successfully created a self-sufficient empowered team, Hope explains that as a leader, you have to accept that these teams will be highly sought after by other organisations due to your empowered model. “Consequently, you need to feel comfortable that you can grow your own empowered teams time and time again,” she says. Once you have gotten familiar with the model, and fully understand how to develop teams, it’ll become routine to upskill teams and provide them with the autonomy to become empowered.
What to read next
Building empowered teams is a key asset to reaching business goals. Mind the Product has plenty of other resources to help you think through how to achieve this. Explore more content with a focus on building product teams, or search more topics in our Content A-Z.
Some of the content referenced above is exclusive to Mind the Product members. Not yet in the club? Learn about Prioritised and MTP Leader membership today.