“Important” means it fuels a critical business process, has a large user base, or is made by an “important” company. Nobody deserves a promotion to product leadership by virtue of career path. Nobody. It’s a guarantee of needless suffering.
All world class product leaders exhibit 3 behaviors and motivations, without exception. First, they are deeply compassionate. Second, they are insatiably curious. Third, they are creative in both problem solving and design.
Without compassion, narcissistic product leaders partner with finance instead of partnering with the customer. Their solutions exploit and are pathetic. They are easily defeated and displaced later by competition.
Without curiosity, basic product leaders underestimate nuance, details, segments, and sources of value. They oversimplify and hide behind mantra about iterative learning. It takes them 10 iterations to learn what a curious person can readily observe on day 1.
Without creativity, bland product leaders cannot create compelling products with delightful experiences. They underestimate the thalamus, the part of the brain that ignores blandness and is drawn to novelty. They fail to excite the market and again are easily disrupted.
If a product leader candidate doesn’t have all three of these capabilities, they are disqualified from important product leadership. Full stop. Invest in their development and check in quarterly to see if they have gained these skills. Until they do, do not promote them.
If you want to become a product leader of an important product, internalize this thread. Not only will it teach you the things you need to know to be successful, it also teaches you how to pitch others on why you are uniquely qualified, putting you miles above other candidates.
If you want to know more and meet people who have real wisdom, I highly recommend following both @hiten and @shreyas. Bonus: they often say things a lot less bluntly than me and are so descriptive, thorough, and artful in how they share thinking over the years.