What does it mean to be an Executive Coach to Product leaders (at least to me)

Kate Leto
3 min readJan 31, 2023

I feel like I’m sitting right in the middle of a few frenzied spaces: product management, leadership and coaching.

Every day I browse Twitter and LinkedIn, I see more people identifying themselves as product coaches, or getting in touch to ask how they too can start their own coaching business.

In many ways, I’m extremely grateful to have found myself in the midst of such popular and desirable spaces.

However, with so many people joining the conversation, I find it challenging to really communicate what I do, how I’m different than other product leadership coaches out there, and why I do it.

So, I thought I’d try to share it here today and just see what happens.

Here goes:

What I do and don’t do:
I am accredited Executive Coach, who focuses on building the leadership skills in Product People.

I don’t focus on developing the leader’s Product Management skills.

I understand the skills. I have used many of the tools and frameworks as a product person and I appreciate them as the foundations of what we do, but I don’t focus on them. (There are so many great people out there that do this work, and I’m happy to help you connect with someone who does if you’d like to DM me.)

Why do I focus on leadership skills vs. product skills?
We don’t learn how to become a leader in school. And, despite the common stories of people being born leaders, research and experience tells us that’s simply not true.

Often our leadership role models are those that have come before us. Some good, but many not so good.

Leadership is a skills that can learn and adapt and evolve — you can read about in books and TedTalks. But I think the leadership that will stay with you is that which comes from you. It truly is authentic because it’s based on your experiences, your beliefs and values. It’s part of who you are — and once realised — it doesn’t waver with a new challenge. It becomes rooted in you.

And that’s what we do in coaching. Working together we uncover and develop your authentic leadership foundation that will grow as you do day in, day out.

Who do I do this with?
I find I tend to work with two groups:

1. Those who have taken on their first leadership role in the past 1–2 years and are looking to better understand their new role, and connect with what it truly means to them.

2. Existing leaders who have recently moved further up the ladder, or who are guiding their company through a transformation that challenges and questions their view of what leadership is.

So that’s me, at least for now. As we all know, our work and focus changes as we continue to learn and grow, and I have no doubt that my answers to these questions will evolve over the next months and years. For now though, it feels good to just write it out.

BTW — I encourage anyone who’s thinking of joining the coaching space — product or otherwise — to try this exercise out for yourself. Here’s a few questions to reflect on:

- Who would you target?
- What problems do they have that you can help them with?
- What makes you the person to help with these problems?
- How will you connect with/find your potential audience?

Think of it as doing a discovery on your own coaching product 😀



Kate Leto

Product Leadership and Executive Coach. Learning to love tea.