An Inspiring Leader Can Make All The Difference

The relative quiet in Western Europe at the beginning of World War II — a period that was known as the “Phoney War” — was shattered on May 10, 1940, when the German Army began to pour into Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and thereafter into France. That same day, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain resigned, and King George VI sent for Winston Churchill and asked him to form and lead a new government. Churchill’s was a baptism of fire, as within six weeks of his escalation to leadership, England stood alone. Over the next year, nearly 45,000 English people died in relentless aerial bombardment.[1]

While the spirit of the people wavered, it never failed — in large measure due to Churchill’s leadership. When the wife of Churchill’s information minister told Churchill that he had given the people courage, Churchill dissented: “I never gave them courage,” he said. “I was able to focus theirs.”[1] His powerful oratory and actions provided clarity and conviction to the people, the motivation and resolve they needed to endure. In such famous phrases as those below, he clarified for his people what they were fighting for and how they were a part of this awesome task:

  • “You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.”
  • “We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender […] ”

Who Inspired You?

Think back to the leaders who have had a strong, positive role in your career, and consider what made them a great leader. It was more than their knowledge and skill — it was their ability to inspire that led you to excel and grow. To help product leaders improve their ability to align and focus the organization and inspire and motivate the product team and organization toward growth, Forrester has developed the force multiplier model of product leadership.

Effective Product Leadership Is A Force Multiplier

A force multiplier is a mechanism that multiplies the input force to create a greater level of work, with no additional effort — think of a wrench, lever, or a compound bow. The force multiplier model identifies a set of leadership characteristics that can enhance — in fact, that can multiply — the effect of good culture and good practice. These characteristics are centered on three spheres of leadership influence:

  • The personal sphere. These are the character qualities that exemplify leaders who foster a culture of trust, safety, innovation, and forward movement that generates interpersonal cooperation and advanced momentum in the organization.
  • The team sphere. This sphere is where the characteristics of the personal sphere begin to create a generative (positive and fruitful) culture. The product leader with advanced personal sphere characteristics enables and motivates their teams, enlightening them to new possibilities and energizing them toward finding solutions that serve and delight their customers and create value for their employers.
  • The organizational sphere. These powerful personal sphere characteristics, combined with a generative team culture, create not only great products but also momentum and alignment within the organization — thus enabling a force multiplication of the efforts of not just the product team but of each functional area.

We will dive deeper into these characteristics and share content on other highly consequential topics of interest to product, marketing, and other key functional areas during this year’s B2B Summit North America. To learn more about the force multiplier characteristics, and many other topics of critical importance to product, marketing, sales, and other leaders, please join us June 5–7 either in person in Austin, Texas, or digitally.

[1] The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz, Erik Larson (Penguin Random House, 2020).