When moving from a Sr PMM role to ‘lead’, what are those attributes that person should embody?
A Lead should be able to drive a strategic, cross-functional effort and solve issues without any defined structure.
Some things I might look for:
- Messaging - can independently define product (and cross-product) positioning and secure the right buy-in from cross-functional stakeholders to move forward
- Interpersonal skills - someone who can navigate complex team dynamics and can effectively influence key stakeholders
- Strategic thinking - proactively surfaces the most impactful initiatives and brings focus to them
- Execution - influences the prioritization of key projects and sets accurate expectations internally
Here are some ways to think about the move from Sr. PMM to Lead:
- Sr. PMM - You have advanced product marketing skills and significant experience in the field. Based on your expertise, you regularly work to define the scope of your role and build on your skillset.
- Lead - You have mastery of all product marketing skills, which you not only apply to your own work, but also to teach others on your team.
- Sr. PMM - You work under limited direction and lead clearly defined initiatives from strategy through execution.
- Lead - You work without appreciable direction and lead increasingly ambiguous initiatives with significant financial impact to the business from strategy through execution.
- Sr. PMM - You regularly work on complex, cross-functional projects that require you to solve challenging problems through evaluation and analysis of multiple variables.
- Lead - You develop clear solutions and a simplified narrative for complex problems requiring the regular use of ingenuity and innovation, and may serve as precedent for future decisions across the organization.
- Sr. PMM - You work with, or lead, a cross-functional team on strategic initiatives in a collaborative, effective and efficient way.
- Lead - You often lead larger or more complex cross-functional initiatives you drive from strategy to execution in a collaborative, effective and efficient way.
- Sr. PMM - You interact with senior and executive-level employees and external representatives. You can easily explain complex ideas at the appropriate altitude for each audience to provide context, educate, build alignment, drive decisions and execute.
- Lead - You serve as consultant to management and act as both an internal and external spokesperson for the function, and you represent your team or the organization as a primary contact on initiatives and projects. You educate and influce functional leadership on decisions effecting your function.
Answered a similar question on "Sr.PMM to Director". Here's my response for that question:
There is no one path but let’s unpack what it means to be a director. It isn’t that the directors know exponentially more or they suddenly become better decision makers.
When we all start our careers, we search for the right answers. In fact, we are judged by our ability to find the right answers. However, as we grow, we acknowledge that we don’t and won’t know the answers to all the questions asked of us. At that point, the ability to ask the right questions (of yourself and of the team) takes priority over the ability to answer the questions.
Additionally, directors+ are able to connect their work with the work of colleagues outside their functional area. They drive joint-outcomes for the company and not just for their function.
Finally, you should be ok to let go some things - including the thrill you get from sharing your work. Someone on your team will most likely do that and you should feel proud and happy about it.
One more thing, don't work to only please execs within your organization. It doesn't mean that you shouldn't seek feedback but focus on business goals than what would make "X" happy?. I have seen several people who only focus on making execs happy. Execs are smart enough to see through that. You are more likely to fall into this trap as you become director+ as you are going to get more exposure to execs. Stay away from that temptation.
Owning an entire product line! Or an entire fucntion - like awareness, enablement, etc.
I actually think soft skills is what your CMO/ VP PMM is likely to look at - your ability to manage your cross-functional partners, measure and show impact, build your annual strategic plan, etc.
Need examples? Suuuure.
These are some of values I seek when hiring a lead PMM on my team:
- Collaborative. We ask others for ideas. We listen to their inputs. We share information.
- Accountable. We establish our goals. We stand by our actions. We stay engaged and we own our stuff.
- Impactful. We get it done. We have an impact on the business – because of what we did and how we did it.