Sometimes It’s Not Just about Skill

If you’re a professional football fan(atic), you know there’s been a lot of press over the capabilities and skills of Tim Tebow, the much heralded quarterback from the University of Florida. For those who might be thinking, let me say, I am not a University of Florida fan. I have followed Tim Tebow’s career, appreciate his capabilities on and off the field, and I recognize he’s a heck of an athlete.

Every sports columnist, former and current professional coach, general manager, and analyst have provided some evaluation and prognostication on whether Tim has what it takes to be a quarterback (field leader) in the NFL or whether he was even a top pick. Most of the conversations surround the ideas that while Tim is a great person, is a leader on the field and has won numerous games, championships and awards, that he lacks certain skills that it takes to be successful at a professional level.

First, let’s look at the facts, because we always do. While at the University of Florida, Tim Tebow amassed some amazing statistics which included, passing for 9,285 career yards, throwing 88 touchdowns, rushing for almost 3,000 yards and intercepted only 15 times while throwing 985 passes.

Product management leaders often get caught up in the statistics of the day and lead executives to believe that the triumphs and successes are all related to revenue, profitability, margins and market share. While all of these are real measurements its more overall success of a company, they are not the true measurements of leadership.

At the end of the day, you should be measured on contributing factors centered on tangible assets associated with leadership. You know, the stuff that brings cadence to a team, defines what the organization does, the consistency of what it delivers and how.

If you consider Tim Tebow, or any other athlete’s accomplishments, it doesn’t happen alone. However, they are part of a team or group of like-minded people who come together for a common goal and place consistency, precision and delivery ahead of just scoring points.

If leaders understand the capabilities, contributions and limitations of each person on the team, and they’re willing to unselfishly work for the betterment of the goal, I believe true leadership will emerge and success begin.

To do this, product management leadership has to step back and assess itself on a regular basis, then make corrections seeking expert advice and feedback. While it may be mechanics that experts are looking at in Tim Tebow, it should be assessing how he’s responded to criticism, listening to and applying advice from experts and his willingness to apply change to the skills he has. The mark of a true leader is they are willing to stand during adversity and hard times and adjust. 

If product management leadership has its sights set on consistently improving through self-assessments and change, then it will have more success and a better perspective of leading the team.

If you like the post, please comment. If you’d like to connect with me, I may be reached on Twitter at jim_holland or drop him an email at jbhprivate[at]gmail[dot]com.

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  • Josh Duncan  On April 25, 2010 at 1:46 am


    I really like the comparison between product management and quarterbacking. It takes a team to win but as the leader on the field, you have to make the right calls in order to move the ball.

    One question for you regarding product management leadership and self assessment. Unlike football, you usually don’t have an off season to reflect and prepare for another go at it. Any thoughts or best practices to share here when conducting self-assessments?

    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.


    • Jim Holland  On April 26, 2010 at 2:39 pm

      Josh – Thanks for the comments. As far as the product management leadership assessment, I’ve been deveoping on and have beta tested at a few sites. I’d like to provide the assessment to you.

      This is something I’d like to give to the product management community this year and make it available online.


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