What do you think of when you hear the word “aggressive”?

Is it a Pit Bull with an oversized chain wrapped around its neck, the type that you see dragging from under a semi truck, lunging at you while it barks with droll flinging from the sides of its mouth?

Or an out of control fighter throwing punches at their opponent during weigh in, being held back by their trainer.

Both of those are obvious displays of aggression. But that’s not the default aggressive state that makes a Product Manager successful.

The type of aggression that helps Product Leaders ship is best defined by Jocko Wilink in the quote below.

I don’t view aggression as an outward attitude, I view aggression as an internal character trait. A fire in your mind that says “I am going to win.”

Jocko Wilink, Discipline Equals Freedom

This is the default aggressive state that separates the good from the great Product Managers. The problem is that you can’t learn it in some Product Management Bootcamp. You can’t buy it as part of some 8-week PM Certificate. Most of the time you won’t even get recognized for being default aggressive because your boss and peers don’t even know what it looks like.

Default Aggressive is having a will to win, doing whatever it takes to complete the mission. It is being ready to:

  • Pivot as the market conditions change.
  • Champion your feature as it is unexpectedly descoped.
  • Rollup your sleeves and work alongside Design and Engineering to find solutions when everyone else says that they don’t exist.