What makes a GREAT Product Manager as opposed to GOOD?
In Jim Collins noted book, “Good to Great,” he pointed out some of the key characteristics that separate good companies from great, highly performing firms. I’m not going to recite these differences here, but it got me thinking about product managers – after all, that’s what I do!
Is there a difference between good product managers and great product managers? At this point in my own career, as an author of one of the world’s leading books on product management, The Product Manager’s Desk Reference, I figure I’ve been around the block enough to see that there are indeed key attributes that separate great product managers from good product managers.
Without hesitation, here are the top three:
- A keen understanding of their customers’ needs. It’s not just that they can discern these needs, they have an uncanny sense of what customers do, the world in which they live, and the challenges they face. Therefore, they are uniquely qualified to draw valuable insights and share those with their teams and inspire others to address those customer needs better than anyone else.
- Strategic purpose. Every great product manager doesn’t merely use the word vision and strategy, they live it every day. Strategy courses through their veins, and this keeps them on hyper-alert for market and other shifts, with an uncanny knack to anticipate what a might happen so that their teams are always at the ready. At Sequent Learning Networks, our Product Strategy Workshops have become so popular with our corporate clients because leaders realize what’s needed to support their great product managers – and the best strategy always wins!
- Commitment to ongoing education. This might surprise many of you, but great product managers never stop learning. First, they are as good a situational learner as any top surgeon or pilot. Perhaps this is a stretch, but think about how true “practitioners” get better with every challenge or opportunity encountered. Second, they are committed to “on-purpose” improvement. Consider that tens of thousands of product managers have experienced Sequent’s Product Management Essentials Workshops**, applied its templates and tools, and have even earned our certificates.
Certainly, there are more attributes that separate the best product managers from the rest, and I’ll bet you can list dozens. However, if you want to set your sights on greatness, consider these three dimensions and take aim right now!
**If you are looking to become a GREAT product manager, our workshops may be for you. We nail down the core foundation and build upon the skills that help you manage the business of your product.