Product School

The Three Attributes You Need to Make it as a Product Manager in Today’s World

Nathan Thomas

Author: Nathan Thomas

February 23, 2023 - 5 min read

Updated: January 24, 2024 - 5 min read


We’re facing complicated times with an uncertain economy and technological disruption upending many of the assumptions that have taken us up until this moment.  To make it as a Product Manager in 2023 and beyond, there are three overarching skills and attributes you need to cultivate that will serve you during both tough times and moments of optimism:

  • Communication: Focus on teamwork and cross-functional collaboration.

  • Customer-Obsession: Focus on Product Insight and meeting user needs.

  • Product Vision: Focus on the big picture and seeing what others can’t. 

Let’s drill down into each in more detail:


  • Displaying this attribute means: You listen, you connect, and you align your team towards the same goal.

  • When communication skills are lacking: Your team is misaligned, people feel like their work is not appreciated, stakeholders are left wanting, people may not know what they are supposed to be working on.

  • You’re called upon to display this attribute when: You have the opportunity to scale up the team and bring different parts of the organization together.

  • You’re winning at communication when: Everything is going smoothly, features are working like clockwork, and everyone knows what they need to do.

  • It’s time to double down and test your skills when: Progress is blocked, there’s an obstacle on the road, and you need to clear it.

When should you double down on communication skills?

Communication skills are especially critical for Product Managers in fast-growing organizations that need to drive alignment and unlock execution with new hires and teams who may not be accustomed to working together. 

Further Reading: Communication and Collaboration 


  • Displaying this attribute means: Every minute moment of the customer/user experience is critical to you. You tweak and fine-tune every detail to make sure the customer falls head-over-heels in love.

  • Customer-obsession may be lacking when: You lose sight of the North Star. Decisions are made based on what is convenient for the team, not the customer. Customer retention is going down. 

  • You’re called upon to display this attribute when: You’re working to onboard new PMs and enthusing to them about why the product you’re building together is going to change the world.

  • You’re winning at customer-obsession when: You’re conducting user interviews in the morning, and spending the afternoon with your team talking about the real-world impact your product is having.

  • It’s time to double down and test your skills when: Leadership is stalled over which new feature to prioritize and needs user & product-level insight that only you can provide.

When should you double down on customer-obsession? 

Your company has unlocked new resources and it’s time to take your product to the next level. You’re brainstorming about a new product or feature, and need someone to make sure that what you’re going to work on will have a real impact. 

Further Learning: 

Product Vision

  • Displaying this attribute means: You’re driven by the word impact. The future is now, and you’re building the world that you and your customers are excited to live in. Features are not just abstractions — they change the world!

  • Product Vision may be lacking when: You’re going through the motions, but you’re not inspired. Everything becomes a box-ticking exercise, with your team feeling disconnected from the values and mission which lead them to join your organization in the first place. 

  • You’re called upon to display this attribute when: Your head is spinning with a vision of the future—you can see how the pieces fit together and know that something BIG is coming down the pipeline.

  • You’re winning at Product-Vision when: Your vision is being put into practice, and the eyes of those you work with are lit up with passion. You pull out your laptop and begin to brainstorm what’s next.

  • It’s time to double down and test your skills when: Long term planning is underway and you need to align the team toward a North Star while managing team dynamics.

When should you double down on Product Vision?

It’s time to unlock the next stage of your evolution and align your entire organization toward a compelling North Star. You want to build something new, and unlock a level of insight and boldness that will help you stay ahead of the competition.

Further learning: 

Three skills work together, but you may lean into one more than the others

While all good Product Managers cultivate all three of these skills to some extent, when reading the list and bullets above, you probably found yourself resonating with one skill or attribute more than the others. And that’s OK. Truly great leaders double down on their strengths, and understand their weaknesses so they can surround themselves with the right people and deploy their talents in the best place. This information can help guide you when considering your next career move. And if you’re an employer, it can help you understand the other kinds of leaders you need to keep in your circle. 

Updated: January 24, 2024

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