This is a list of some of the soft skills you need in order to succeed as a product manager. You can read more on each topic by clicking the link below each heading.
Product managers are usually leaders in their organizations, as they are responsible for leading the team towards the goal of creating successful products. Despite this responsibility, the people on their team rarely report to them, meaning that the product manager needs to lead through their leadership abilities as they have no authority. They can do this through setting an inspiring vision and strategy for the team and clearly communicating it. Good leadership also requires interpersonal skills, like transparency and authenticity.
You find all the resources for improving your leadership skills here.
Product managers have to make many decisions every day about everything between backlog prioritization, product design and bug triaging. A product manager who get things done, is a product manager who prioritize ruthlessly and make effective decisions. What and how decisions are made can result in either a well functioning team, or the complete opposite.
You can read more about how to make effective decisions here.
As a product manager needs to educate the team and stakeholders on his or her product and evangelize it, communicate decisions, data and results, interpret and forward information from as well engineers as designers and more, excellent communication skills is essential. You need to know how to be clear, concise and direct, in both written and verbal communication.
You can learn more about communication here.
The product manager role requires leadership without authority. This means that you will have to lead through influence – to get others to adopt your priorities and help you succeed. Through building strong relationships, you will have to earn respect and persuade with data, logic, enthusiasm and credibility.
Learn how to gain influence here.
In order to be successful, a product manager has to collaborate with both members on the team and across other departments. It can be a challenge as the people you will need to bring together are of diverse backgrounds, skill-sets and professions. In order to push your product forward, you will not only work with a development team, but you also need to collaborate well with stakeholders, other product managers and the leadership team by listening and channeling their point of view.
The set of skills that the product managers need to bring to the team is strategic thinking, to complement the skills of engineers, designers, marketers and others. Strategic thinking is all about understanding the current market, how it is developing and competition – it is about asking the right questions in order to define the right problems to solve and a roadmap.
If a product manager needs to make and communicate decisions – what should drive these decisions? The answer is data. A good product manager doesn’t make decisions based on gut or instinct, but instead makes informed decisions by seeking out the right data and analyzing it. They are armed with insights and knowledge of the right methods for finding the answers.
Is this it?
This is just a few of the skills that the role as a product manager demands. A friend working as a product manager once told me, “Working with product is mostly about applying the right processes at the right time“. You can learn more about product development, and the processes it entails, here.