One attribute that truly differentiates great Product Managers from the rest is that they live the value of extreme ownership at all times. This is not easy. As PMs, we often find ourselves in situations where we have little control over the outcome. It would be easy and justified to let go and let the situation take its course. But great PMs don’t! So, what do great PMs do when things are out of their control? Indeed Director of Product Parul Goel shares strategies and mindsets that PMs can adopt to continue to demonstrate extreme ownership.

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On extreme ownership

Product managers are often required to influence the direction of the product. People within the company look to them to make decisions about the future of the products they work on. This is why product managers need to take extreme ownership of outcomes. Here is what Parul had to say:

“Extreme Ownership is, I own everything in my world. There is nobody else to blame if something goes wrong, I am accountable.” 

“A tool that helps me stay grounded and assess whether I’m really showing up as an extreme owner or not, is the accountability ladder. It’s actually a ladder. Looking at the bottom rungs of this ladder, they’re more of a victim mindset. You don’t think you have the power to change something, or you don’t think it’s your role to change something.” 

“The top part of the ladder is where you are showing up as an owner. You are taking accountability. I have to work with this reality. Whatever’s in front of me, I’m going to find solutions. And I’m going to make it happen.”

On benefits of extreme ownership

Often, people think that extreme ownership might rub people the wrong way. They are worried that their driven attitude might not be taken well by their team. But in reality, extreme ownership leads to success for both you and your peers. These are some benefits of extreme ownership: 

“Number one is career growth. I am delivering mood impact. I don’t give up as easily. I’m more willing to take control and make things happen, rather than depending on others.” 

“Number two is stronger bonds with my team. One thing that holds people back from showing up as an extreme owner, is the fear of stepping on other people’s toes. But if you show up as an extreme owner, where your goal is that you are all successful, you’re actually helping others be successful.”

“Finally, higher satisfaction. You can imagine just feeling helpless like I don’t have control over things. On the other hand, when I take extreme ownership, my brain starts working differently. I’m more focused on how to move forward. It has led to increased job satisfaction and an overall higher level of happiness.”

On utilizing extreme ownership

Product managers are required to influence without authority. They depend on large cross-functional teams doing their jobs well. But there are still ways to take extreme ownership even when you don’t necessarily own every aspect of your product. This is what it takes to take extreme ownership:

“As a product manager, obviously, we can’t really jump in and code. There are a lot of things that are outside of our control. One thing that we can do as product managers during execution is to remove ambiguity. Ambiguity is the number one enemy of a smooth, seamless execution. So, strive for clarity.”

“As product managers, our success depends on large cross-functional teams doing their jobs well. Even though I was doing my job, somebody else didn’t do their job. Over time, I have realized that’s the role I signed up for. You’re accountable for the success of the product, and bringing all of these people along to do their job well.” 

“Extreme ownership takes a lot of courage. It takes courage to care about something so deeply that you’re willing to take that ownership. It takes courage to venture into areas and try to drive them when you don’t know much about it when you trying to learn on the go. And it takes courage to have these difficult, uncomfortable conversations.”

About the speaker
Parul Goel, Director of Product Management Member
About the host
Maheep Bhalla
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