Product leaders should fight passionately for what they believe in. But also be willing to listen

From Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson

They all knew they were expected to be deferential to Jobs while also pushing back on his ideas and being willing to argue — a tricky balance to maintain, but each did it well.

Tim Cook: “I realized very early that if you didn’t voice your opinion, he would mow you down,” said the former chief operating officer. “He takes contrary positions to create more discussion, because it may lead to a better result. So if you don’t feel comfortable disagreeing, then you’ll never survive.”

I love working with people who have strong opinions and are willing to fight for them. I don’t have to be right, but I do have to be convinced. I like working with people who have better ideas than mine, and can show me why.

We’ve had some fierce discussions at Posterous, some arguments. Sometimes these discussions led to more work. Sometimes they meant we threw out something that was already built.

Egos were hurt. Projects were delayed. But in the end, the best idea always won and we always walked away a stronger team.

A great designer needs to be strong. They should even be a little cocky. But that should go for everyone on the team who cares about the product.

Everyone’s opinion matters, and anyone’s idea might be the right one. But if you aren’t willing to put it out there and fight for it, it might never win.

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