5 Things Product Leaders Can Focus On In 2021 (5 New Year Resolutions)

2020 was a year like no other. It started with massive bushfires and then followed, among many other headlines, a pandemic of global proportions. The lockdowns, quarantines, and restrictions changed the way we worked, ate, socialized, and lived. The structure of our days, homes, offices, and home offices all changed.. Even if we can do some of the same things again in 2021 (e.g. travel), the changes the world has gone through will impact us forever.

Based on these changes, here are a few things you could focus on for 2021:

1. Be more social. We have heard from many product leaders that two of the biggest challenges of 2020 were keeping their teams motivated and onboarding new employees. Even though there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to these problems, we have learned that keeping in touch with people helps. What does that mean? The informal conversations by the water cooler are in the past. As product leaders, we need to find new opportunities to check in not only with our team members, but also with our stakeholders. The level at which we communicate has also changed.

2. Upgrade your skills. Shorter commute means more time. Digitalization has accelerated as it became, in most cases, the only way to do business. More than ever, we have access to resources and learnings. If there were ever an ideal time to upgrade your skill sets (in product, leadership, or any other area), now is the time. You can look for targeted trainings in the areas in which you want to progress, you can find a mentor or a coach – most of these have online offerings now.

3. Manage your energy levels. Being at home most of the time, not being in an office surrounded with colleagues, missing that professional coffee machine (maybe you have one now also at home), moving less throughout the day, getting less fresh air and exercise, being on an insane number of video conferences – – all these take l a toll on energy levels. There are things you could do e to keep those energy levels up. Remember, now that you’re at home, you can do 30 jumping jacks without the whole office thinking you’re crazy. A 20-minute nap during your lunch break is totally acceptable. The kitchen is just 5 steps away, and you can prepare yourself an energizing smoothie. It takes discipline but it is possible. If you start to feel depleted, take action!

4. Look for new opportunities. Here at PMF we really love this quote (actually we love a lot of quotes). “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” (Winston Churchill) The pandemic has changed so many things regarding how people live their lives. Unfortunately, it has also nearly killed industries. But the human needs remain so there is an opportunity to create new products to solve those needs. Whether it is your product or needs which will lead to creating new products, keep an open mind and explore new ideas and watch market trends. In a saturated mature market,it’s hard to become the leader. But when the market totally shifts, equal opportunities are available to all.

5. Invest in your work space. Home office possibilities are developing like never before. Companies are considering, and some already decided, whether there is a need for physical offices; thereby saving costs. More and more people are looking to move into bigger homes, which would allow for a dedicated space for work. Less traveling and staying at home everyday makes the location of your home less important and the inside of your home more important. If in the past you had to comply to certain setups your company, HR, or boss decided on, now you are the designer of your workspace. Using multiple screens, choosing your own chair, sitting on an exercise ball, hanging a vision board? Whatever helps you be more productive and content in the workspace goes. Take advantage!

Bonus: Invest in yourself. If 2020 had led you to taking on a new leadership position, or you want to take a more active role in becoming a product leader, consider immersive executive leadership programs like the Product Management Executive Programme with INSEAD.If you feel like you have more to share, more to give, and could take on more responsibility, but just want to make sure you are ready for it and are using the right methods and skills, this program could be right for you. Feel free to schedule a free consultation here with the program coordinator if you’re unsure or want to check if you qualify.