Traits of a Good Product Manager

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I love making lists. In my opinion lists are a wannabe-organized person’s best friend. They help you decide priorities and keep focus. There is no better motivator than knocking off the items on your list. The productive fulfilment you get when you look at your list and find everything checked-out is incomparable.

Back in the time when I was not married and was looking for someone, I created one such list with my BFF.  We tried to define what we were looking for in an ideal husband and came up with ‘Traits of a Husband Material” list 🙂 For reasons of ridicule-prevention, that list can’t be shared here.  However, something triggered my brain while I was on my usual internet-trolling-for-articles-of-interest and I thought – Why not come up with a traits of an ideal Product Manager list?

And so I took a shot at it:

Traits of an good Product Manager material:

  1. Empathy:  In my opinion this is the most important trait for a good Product Manager. A good PM is able to empathise with the users. She is able to understand their habits, their pain-points and their wishes. A good PM is also able to understand and empathise with business. This is one ability that enables her to align user needs with business goals and set vision for an excellent product.
  2. Willingness to Learn: The good PM is not a walking encyclopaedia but she has a constant zeal to learn. Be it subject matter, domain knowledge, user knowledge,  industry best practices or the pet-peeves of  her team members. She is constantly  learning from her peers, her competition, unanswered questions, risks, challenges and criticism. A good PM is always willing  and happy to learn more about things that could help her do a better job.
  3. Leadership Skills: Mind you, I am not saying management skills here but, leadership skills. A good PM is someone who has the ability to bring different people on the same page. A good PM can establish a vision and common goal and motivate everyone to aim to achieve that. Good PM has the ability to keep people engaged, interested and motivated
  4. Ownership: Product Managers are people who are willing to own action items, respond to questions and take decisions. She does not play blame games. She not only owns the idea, the process and the execution but she also understands the importance of making the deadlines and any good or bad outcome out of it. She takes her commitments very seriously
  5. Assertive: A good PM is not afraid to speak her mind. She knows what needs to be done and is able to persuade and negotiate as situation demands. She is not a push-over and can stand up for her team and herself. She is flexible but not too-much. Most-most importantly, she knows when and how to say NO
  6.  Master Communicator: A good product manager is able to explain things clearly, verbally and in writing. She prefers face to face communication and does not write long emails. She is a good listener and is apt at displaying information in easy to understand format. She is able to deliver bad news quickly and effectively
  7.  Project Management Skills: A food Product Manager has excellent Project Management skills. She is an information-hog. She collects data that helps her make decisions. She is able to filter signal from noise  and can take charge of uncertain situations. She is able to prioritize, provide direction and set realistic deadlines. She is able to identify risks, raise flags and address it.  A good PM is also excellent at running focused and effective meetings

This is what I can think of as of now. This sure is not enough and this definitely is not all. There is no much more to a Product Manager than just the 7 things I described above. Havn’t even touched the UX and creativity aspect. So, I am pretty sure this list will evolve with time. In the meantime, why not share some other traits you think are important in a good PM?

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