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Product Delivery Mindset #9: Be a relationship router

Read Time 4 mins | Written by: Kim Sullivan

Product Delivery Mindset #9: Be a relationship router

As a software product leader, the final key mindset to highlight is being a "Relationship Router,” connecting people to ensure vital information reaches the right stakeholders in a timely manner. Instead of being the central communication point, leaders should enable the team to have crucial conversations.

By avoiding being in the middle and encouraging team members to form their own relationships and networks, a culture of self-sufficiency and ownership is nurtured where everyone can thrive and grow. This approach is more effective than simply dictating directions and solutions or monopolizing conversations and communications.

This approach embodies the essence of servant leadership, emphasizing the importance of building relationships within the team, not just individual ones.

This "Relationship Router” mindset encapsulates these key principles:

  • Serve the team's needs rather than expecting the team to serve you, the leader
  • Facilitate connections and information flow instead of being the central point of communication
  • Encourage team members to form their own relationships and networks
  • Strike a balance between providing guidance and promoting autonomy
  • Cultivate a culture of trust, transparency, ownership, and collaborative problem-solving

By embracing these principles, product leaders can foster an environment where software development teams can flourish, innovate, and deliver remarkable results for the organization.

Relationship Router vs Being a Bottleneck

As a leader, especially new leaders, it’s easy to feel the draw to be part of every conversation, put a lot of administrative processes in place to stay in the know, and attend every meeting because you are worried about missing something important or being out of the loop.

This quickly leads to burnout as you find yourself in the middle of every conversation and often times needing to follow up with multiple different people to ensure the right information is disseminated to the right people.

Instead, try to change the lens of your leadership role to being a “Relationship Router.”

Orchestrate the right conversations without leading them yourself. Trust the team to do the right thing and check in periodically. Enable public discussions or nudge team members to share updates in the appropriate forum. Focus on outputs rather than constantly monitoring the process.

This approach allows leaders to stay informed without being a bottleneck, promotes a culture of ownership, and maintains the right leadership balance of providing guidance yet empowering team members to solve problems collaboratively.

The whole product delivery mindset series

Over the past year, I've been reflecting on my successful product and project deliveries throughout the last two decades.

Unpacking this wasn't easy because I tend to "just get it done." It's like snowboarding or mountain biking — difficult to instruct others on the basics when you've been at it for years and it just "works."

It took time to pause, reflect, consider, and collaborate to create this playbook for successful product delivery.

Here are links to each product delivery mindset post:

Follow me for more tips, tricks, and how-tos on Product Delivery, Product Management, Program Management, and Project Management.

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Kim uses LinkedIn to share her thoughts on product delivery, prioritization techniques, and enterprise product development and design. 

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Kim Sullivan

Kim Sullivan is the Head of Product & Design at Codingscape.