A few years ago, I watched an Olympic gymnast deliver a speech, “How to Score a Perfect Ten.” He gave his talk while doing his pommel horse routine! He vaulted onto the horse, did a series of moves, then said, “I get 9.4 points for getting on the horse and executing the required skills.” Then, he launched into a fearless series of spins, suspended himself for a moment, and continued, “I get another three-tenths of a point for embracing creativity and risk.” For his last maneuver, he pressed himself into a full fingertip handstand, stretched his toes to the ceiling, then concluded, “I get those last three-tenths of a point through extension.”
As the SVP of The Learning Company/Mattel, the VP of Product Management at Netflix, and the Chief Product Officer at Chegg (a homework help/textbook rental company), I have hired, managed, and developed hundreds of product leaders. The job is hard, but I describe the role straightforwardly:
As I evaluate candidates, I focus on two separate sets of skills: the technical skills required of all product managers and the functional leadership skills needed to grow into VP-level roles.