What Must a Product Owner Do to Earn a Team’s Respect?

For me, being a Product Owner is like being the living representation of the product. I say this because the Product Owner is like the beacon of the product; guiding the way and guiding the path every single day. More than this, they represent the division of the product again and again and where the medium marks lies in terms of meeting product standards and quality. As a Product Owner, you are always balancing between meeting Product Delivery, maintaining peace with the Stakeholders and yet still fostering a culture of innovation and collaboration with the rest of the team through continual discussions and feedback looping with the Developers; hear them out on their ideas and compromise where you can. However you should also maintain a degree of inflexibility in terms of the product standards. With that being said, I’d have to say that if a Product Owner wants to earn the respect of their team and keep it, they need to find the balance between being a good leader and satisfying the needs of their team.  

A Good Product Owner Is Stern When They Need To Be  

Being stern as a product owner is essential for ensuring the successful development and delivery of a product. A firm and assertive approach helps maintain a clear and focused direction throughout the product’s lifecycle. As the bridge between Stakeholders, Development teams, and end-users, a stern Product Owner can effectively communicate and enforce priorities, making certain that the product aligns with the overall business goals and user needs. This approach also aids in managing scope creep, preventing constant changes that can lead to delays and confusion. Moreover, being resolute in decision-making instills confidence and trust among team members, encouraging accountability and fostering a sense of purpose. While sternness is important, it should be balanced with openness to feedback and adaptability to changes that genuinely enhance the product. Ultimately, a determined Product Owner drives the team towards excellence by maintaining a steady course and ensuring that the end result meets or exceeds expectations. 

A Good Product Owner Knows When to Admit They are Wrong and Welcome New Ideas  

Accepting when you’re wrong is a crucial trait for a Product Owner, as it demonstrates humility, transparency, and a commitment to delivering the best possible product. Acknowledging mistakes fosters an environment of open communication and trust among team members and Stakeholders. It also allows for quicker identification and resolution of issues, preventing potential setbacks or misunderstandings down the line. When a Product Owner admits their errors, it encourages a culture of learning and improvement within the team, setting an example that mistakes are opportunities for growth rather than sources of blame. This humility also strengthens relationships with Stakeholders, as they see a Product Owner who values their input and is dedicated to making things right.  

A Truly Great Product Will Leave You Inspired  

Last but not least, one of the qualities in a Product Owner that I have always aspired to in my professional career is to be a leader who inspires; which takes me back to my junior days at school. I had a really great math teacher with a really strong personality; he was excellent at explaining new concepts and always communicated his expectations clearly. However when we ran into trouble, nobody felt ashamed or shy to ask for clarification. This is because instead of shaming incorrect answers or questions, he used those questions as an opportunity to explain why we were going wrong in some areas and showed us how to arrive at the correct answer. In addition he encouraged the sharing of new ideas or ways of working out sums, which really helped to create an environment where we felt we were not just ‘parrot learning’ but instead active participants in the learning process.  

For me, these are qualities one should aspire towards as a Product Owner. Because at the end of the day, you are only as strong as your weakest link and let’s be real – great things rarely happen in isolation. So if you want to be respected as a Product Owner: include them in decisions, make them feel that their ideas matter and facilitate opportunities for collaboration, feedback and innovation.  

If you are interested in learning more about how to be an impactful Product Owner, get in touch with Ralph today! 


About Effective Agile

Ralph Jocham is a Change Agent in Scrum // Agile // Coaching // Evidence Based Management and also a Professional Scrum Trainer based in Europe. 

As one of the first Professional Scrum Trainers in the world, Ralph has worked directly with cocreator of #scrum, Ken Schwaber, and has played an integral part in the course development of the #PSPO (Professional Scrum Product Owner) as well as the delivery of all #scrum.org certified courses. 

If you’re looking to invest in training that transforms and empowers teams to successfully adopt #scrum or #agile, and create high-performance #productdevelopment environments leveraging the agile values and principles, visit https://effectiveagile.com/agile-scrum-trainings/ 

If you would like to work with Ralph and company as an #agilecoach, #agileconsultant, or powerful change agent to get your team back on track and on the road to high-performance #agile #productdevelopment, visit https://effectiveagile.com/agile-transformation/ 

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