A manager can run a department, but the truly great product leaders have a secret sauce that makes them stand out from the rest. Many Chief Product Officers are at the forefront of steering change within many companies, including healthcare. What skills and qualities are necessary to make an impact on product leadership? Included Health CPO and 2022 Global CPO 20 winner Nupur Srivastava shares the attributes of great product leaders and how to set priorities while enabling innovation.

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On Hiring Product Leaders and Organizational Structure

Episode host and Products That Count CPO Renée Niemi wanted to get to know Nupur’s style for hiring product leaders and how leadership is structured at Included Health. Nupur gave really key attributes that every product leader and team player must have.

“There’s this book I love called “The Ideal Team Player” that describes people that are hungry, humble, and smart. We love people that are hungry. We’re trying to change healthcare. And we want people at the company that has a hunger to have that type of impact.”

“How do you bring groups of people along? Do you make sure that you’re hearing others out? How do you bring data and stories to the conversation to compel the organization behind a coherent roadmap? I’m specifically looking for empathy, strong communication skills, and the ability to influence.”

On Facilitating Innovation and Keeping High Energy

Healthcare is considered a traditional sector. And there is a lot of reimagining and reinventing the healthcare space in this decade. Nupur gives us insights into this process and what it looks like for leadership to keep energy high while enabling innovation.

“I actually think it’s really easy to get energized by doing product and healthcare because there are so many problems. It’s so broken. As someone that likes to solve problems, you have plenty of opportunities.

For example, there was a member of ours that was calling in severe pain and was trying to find out anything that they could do to avoid going to urgent care because they couldn’t afford the $75 copay. They were literally waiting in pain since it was a better alternative because the other option would be not having food on the table for the family.

I find product management actually super interesting and super fascinating. The challenge is trying to build things that satisfy two user sets, and having a product strategy.”

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On Setting Priorities as Product Leaders

In product leadership, time and resources can be stretched thin. It matters just as much of what you say no to as what you say yes to and gets done. Nupur shares insights into being a successful product leader and setting priorities for teams.

“One of the most important things for the product team to be successful is to make sure that the executive team is clear on what the priorities actually are. Even before we get to set the roadmap, the executive team all spends a lot of time aligning. How are we prioritizing growth versus retention versus margin versus member satisfaction?” 

“So, we take that as a pretty important input. Speaking to the product side of the house, we’ll understand the company-level OKRs, and then the product side of the house will take that and articulate a clear set of OKRs themselves that shows how the product is going to help the business.”

“We tend to use OKRs quite a bit as a company and it’s quite effective. There are always things we could be doing better, but it helps us have a point of view on what we want to prioritize as a product team. Which obviously then leads to clarity of roadmap. Saying no is very hard, but almost more important than what you say yes to.”

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About the speaker
Nupur Srivastava Grand Rounds, VP of Product Member
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