Product Lead: Owning the Product Vision

Learn what a product lead does. In this critical role, the product lead establishes the product vision and brings it to life, leading an interdisciplinary team of builders.

What Does a Product Lead Do?

Every company strives to develop and launch successful products that meet the needs of their customers. One of the key roles in the product development process is that of a Product Lead.
In this article, we will explore what a lead product manager is, what their responsibilities are, and how you can become one.

What Is a Product Lead

A product lead is a senior-level position in a company's product development team, responsible for overseeing the creation of new products. They maintain the vision of the product while supervising product managers who focus on elements of the product and various features. They work closely with cross-functional teams of engineers, designers, and marketers to ensure that the final product is valuable to target customers.
At early stage startups, the product lead is often one of the founders who has an initial vision for the product experience.
As the company grows, a lead product manager is hired to bring the vision to life as the founder usually has a wide array of responsibilities they need to own. At larger companies, a product lead might also be a Group PM, Director of PM or VP, Product.

The Role of a Product Lead

The role of a product lead can be broken down into three key areas: determining the product direction, structuring the team, and establishing processes.
Structuring the team
The product lead is responsible for hiring personnel to work on the product. They identify the required skill sets for each role and select candidates who meet these requirements. They also train and mentor the product team to ensure they are aligned with the product vision and understand their roles and responsibilities.
Establishing processes
The product lead establishes the product organization and processes to ensure that the product development process is efficient, effective, and valuable to customers and the company. They work closely with different internal teams to ensure that deadlines are met and that the final product is of high quality. They possess a range of skills, including data analysis, communication and positioning, and product sense, which help them accomplish their duties effectively.
Often a product lead is in charge of gathering feedback from stakeholders including company executives and target customers. They set regular meetings with their team to keep everyone on track and informed of the latest decisions.
They’ll often manage the internal communication regarding the product too, ensuring other teams are aware of the new product or features. 
Product direction
The product lead is responsible for developing the product vision and strategy. They create the product roadmap, which outlines the product’s features, benefits, and timeline.
They conduct market research to understand customer needs, gather feedback from stakeholders, and assess market trends.
The product lead uses this information to make informed decisions about the product's direction and how it will meet the company's business goals.

Skills and Education Required to Become a Product Lead

To become a product lead, you need experience as a product manager. Formal education always helps but isn’t a requirement in today’s tech ecosystem. You will also need to develop skills such as project management, leadership, and critical thinking.
It's important to stay up-to-date with industry trends and innovations. One way to gain experience and build your skills is by working as a product manager and gradually working your way up to a product lead position.
Networking with professionals in the field and seeking out mentorship opportunities can also help you gain valuable insights into the role.

Job Outlook and Salary for Product Leads

The job outlook for product leads is positive, with an expected growth rate of 11% in the coming years. The average annual salary for a product lead is $120,000, according to Glassdoor.
However, the salary can vary depending on the size of the company, the industry, and the location. Most importantly, product lead growth starts by getting a job as a product manager, gaining experience, and working their way up to owning the wider product vision. 

Become a Skilled Product Lead

Product lead growth is a critical role in a company's product development team responsible for overseeing the creation of new products.
In order to become a successful product lead, it is crucial to possess experience as a product manager, as well as leadership and critical thinking skills.
Moreover, staying up-to-date with industry trends and seeking mentorship opportunities can provide individuals with valuable insights into the role, further enhancing their chances of success.
Maven offers online classes that can help individuals acquire the necessary skills and gain practical experience, making it a convenient and accessible option for aspiring product leads.

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