Product managers are responsible for team safety

Matt LeMay’s post on how to build safety into team communication might not immediately seem that relevant to product management, but Why is Psychological Safety at Odds With the way we Work? is an excellent reminder for all of us:

Now let’s talk about the product managers who are willing to take on the individual risk that comes with creating psychological safety for their teams. These product leaders often don’t have the opportunity to step into those big “visionary” roles – not because they lack vision, but because they are so busy doing the emotional labor of cleaning up after the other product leaders who are making those big, lofty promises. These are the product leaders who earn the trust and respect of their teams by helping leadership understand the real-world trade-offs that go into actually delivering products, even when leadership doesn’t want to hear about it. And here’s the thing: over time, they actually train company leadership to be better! They sharpen their organization’s focus by saying, “You can have this OR you can have that. Which is more important given our goals and constraints?” These product leaders deliver so much value to the companies they work for, and the truth is, they don’t always get rewarded for it.

Over the years I have become more and more convinced that team safety is the most important job a product manager has.