Product School

5 Qualities of Great Product Managers in 2019

Ellen Merryweather

Ellen Merryweather

January 09, 2023 - 4 min read

Updated: January 24, 2024 - 4 min read

There are many important qualities of a good Product Manager. But what makes a Product Manager great? What does it take to become someone who is a powerful motivator and can lead a team to build awesome products? Here are five of the many qualities that are important to making things happen and inspiring others. 

Man at desk

1. Empathy

It’s important for you to be empathetic to the feelings of other people around you. This includes your team and your customers. It starts with the customers, your stakeholders, as you must be able to get their pain points, why they have them, and come up with a good solution on how to solve them.

After you gather all your information, you need to relay this information to your developers and designers team by explaining the “why” and motivate them to get behind your product or feature.

Secondly, you need to be empathetic when working with your teams. They will be the reason for your product’s success, and they will have their ideas and input in building the product. As a Product Manager, you will be there to take into account their points, and make a decision that keeps everyone happily involved in the process.

2. Visionary

Every great product starts with an even broader vision. A great product manager is a big thinker. They see beyond what’s available to them; they see more than resources and tools, and a global market. To be a great product manager, you will look for opportunities to disrupt the current status quo and develop and a solid plan to make it happen.

On the other side of being a visionary and thinking big, you also need to know when to say “no.” A visionary doesn’t only consider the success of a major product or feature, but also can see when it’s not going to add value to a design for your users. Or know when something should be placed on the backlogs to revisit after a ship date.

3. Strong Communicator – Verbally & Visually

Communication is essential in just about 100% of jobs these days, but why is it on this list? The dynamics of a product manager position forces you to speak to multiple types of people, from your to highly technical engineers and let’s also include mom.

You need to be able to break down technical information in a way that you can explain it to your mom, or your customers, who may not always be technical.

At the same time, you need to understand tech conversations well enough that you can participate with your development team and be able to offer quality input, (when needed). It’s also important to communicate your idea well enough that you convince your stakeholders and team to get behind your design.

Visual communication is important in brainstorming sessions on a whiteboard. You will also sketch out your feature concepts in a way that removes roadblocks for your development team. If you leave your team with questions about how you want features to look, this wastes a lot of time and resources.

colleagues talking

4. Strategic Thinking

Bringing value to customers is always on the top of your mind, and in doing so, strategy plays a huge role. Knowing how your product stands against competitors and how to place it on the market is also another form of strategic thinking that is critical in product management. With strategy comes the ability to prioritize features and develop a robust roadmap with a strong execution.

For the long term strategy of a product to work well, the product manager must have an idea of the roadmaps for the future, and be able to decide what actions should take place immediately, now, and never. All of this involves a great strategy and our next quality.

5. Decisiveness

We’ve talked about the ability to say “no” and the capacity to design an excellent roadmap. But what happens if your project comes to a standstill waiting on feedback.  

As a product manager, you have to avoid this situation at all costs by making a decision, (usually based only on facts and sometimes based on your understanding of your customers). If this is a weaker point for you, have a process in mind for collecting all your facts and hunches, and making a timely decision to keep development going.

If you’ve to build a strong rapport with your team, and they trust your process, this will be much smoother.

What other qualities would you add? Tweet us @ProductSchool and let us know.

Updated: January 24, 2024

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