The Product Manager’s Identity Crisis by Mitchell Gillespie "Product people - Product managers, product designers, UX designers, UX researchers, Business analysts, developers, makers & entrepreneurs 30 September 2019 True Motivation, Product leadership, Product Management, ProductTank, producttank toronto, Team Leadership, Mind the Product Mind the Product Ltd 365 Product Management 1.46
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The Product Manager’s Identity Crisis by Mitchell Gillespie

Product people have a ton of different responsibilities – a number of stakeholders to answer to and a number of different problems to solve. In this ProductTank Toronto talk, Mitchell Gillespie, Director of Product Management at Wave speaks about:

  • The product manager identity crisis
  • Motivating others
  • Playbooks

Watch the video to see Mitchell’s talk in full. Or read on for an overview of his key points.

Identity Crisis

Product managers can find themselves facing a number of challenges – from a lack of alignment between stakeholders to finding themselves overworked, underpowered, or not adequately involved.

Go into consultant mode!

By no longer making yourself responsible and accountable for a particular action, you can delegate tasks, give others more responsibility and simply consult them to success. If you want to make the most impact you need to see who else in your company is capable and how you can motivate them.

Motivating Others

Everyone should know what they’re working on and how it impacts the project and the company. In order to lead to better personal performance and satisfaction, you must focus on three factors: purpose, mastery, and automation. To adequately motivate others as a product person, you need to create a supportive learning community, get clear on what failure really is and take responsibility for what you can control and forgive what you can’t.

Essentially, you become a coach for your team. Once you understand how to motivate you can give them a playbook to succeed.


When you’re presented with a challenge? What do you do?

Mitchell promotes participation in problem discovery for his team. This allows him to empower ownership of solution discovery and delivery. Giving this responsibility to your team allows you, as the product lead, to focus on understanding the problem in another way. Finally, embrace how you can learn faster instead of only delivering fast.

Mitchell ends his talk by going through examples of how they are implementing some of these things at Wave. The key takeaways from his talk are that the job of a product manager isn’t easy, but, by empowering others around you as product people, the team and organization can benefit tremendously.

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