5 qualities that make an awesome product manager

A Product manager needs to wear so many different hats that coming up with a top 5 list requires a lot of thought. In my opinion, these are the key things, which make a great Product Manager.

  1. Strategic Thinking — A Product person needs to evaluate how his offering is going to add value to his customer, differentiate from the competition and add to the company’s growth. He is the CEO of his product and should be able to put it in the larger scheme of things. He is the go-to person for his entire cross-functional team, hence it is very important for his to have a clear vision and road map of his product.
  2. Prioritize (features), evaluate (trade offs) and monitor (metrics)– A great product can have an infinite number of features but there is always a limitation on the resources (design, engineering, QA) available. Hence it is very important for him to prioritize by doing a cost-benefit analysis based on what his customer wants, what his competition is offering, how is existing product is doing. He needs to know what will help solve the problem. This is where is analytical skills come in play. It is important that he pays attention to details. If the aspiration is that millions will use the product, this guy needs to pay a very close attention so that the tiniest of detail is not missed. Building and monitoring actionable metrics is also important to help evolve and iterate on the offering. By closely monitoring key metrics, he can use an agile approach to iterate on his product and make it successful. If something cannot be measured, making any changes to it is like shooting in the dark. Hence having actionable metrics is a key.
  3. Gets things done — What converts an awesome idea to an amazingly successful product is the execution. While market timing, go-to market strategy, etc. are other factors which determine success; a well-built product is a must. A Product manager needs to get stuff done. Period. If the team is self-motivated and truly agile, the product guy can be more hands-off but ultimately it is his responsibility to ensure the product meets the customer needs.
  4. Leads Collaboratively — A product can be started by a spark or idea from one person, but it is never the result of only one person’s thoughts. It requires inputs from customers, internal stakeholders among other people involved. A good product person needs to prioritize the backlog and still ensure the stakeholders are on board. At the same time, he needs to motivate his team to deliver on time. He needs to resolve conflicts between stakeholders and explain the reason for his backlog.
  5. Enjoys Creating Products — this might sound vague and to some degree, and it is meant to be vague. The person should be highly passionate about his product. He should treat it like his own baby. He needs to be driven to make it happen, to solve the users problems, to create something big, make a difference and show the need if none exists. He needs to breathe his product.