To be a successful product manager (PM), you must have strong core competencies, high emotional intelligence (EQ), and an excellent cultural fit with your organisation. In addition to having a high EQ and working for a firm that is a good fit for them, the traits that set apart the top project managers include mastery of the basic skills and a solid understanding of the field. Finally, you should consider the technical proficiency required by the organisation, the company’s perspective of the PM function, the company’s current stage, and the nature of your connection with upper management. There are essential skills that any PM should have, and although some of them may be learned in an academic setting at the best product management certification programs, the vast majority are honed via practical experience, positive role modelling, and mentorship.
The greatest PMs spend years developing, launching, and iterating products to master these essential talents. These PMs are adept at analysing how each of these abilities affected their products’ performance and adapting to client input. The greatest PMs can empathise with consumers, read their body language and emotions, and identify the product or feature pain points in a customer interview. A high-EQ PM has excellent connections inside their business and knows how to overcome internal and external obstacles to launch a successful product. The four primary characteristics of EQ:
- Managing relationships: An excellent PM’s ability to manage relationships is crucial. The most effective PMs motivate their teams to provide their very best efforts by building genuine, reliable relationships with everyone involved in the project, both within and outside of the organisation.
- Being self-aware: Product managers need to know themselves well if they are to maintain objectivity and not try to force their own preferences upon their customers. If a product manager isn’t self-aware, they could insist on prioritising a feature they came up with, even if feedback from customers and other data points indicate it’s not a priority.
- Managing self: There is a lot of pressure on a PM’s shoulders. Priorities for new features might differ between the demands of the company’s top executive, the technical staff, and the consumer base. It takes a certain kind of person to juggle competing priorities, tight deadlines, and limited resources in a competitive market. A PM might swiftly lose the support of the consumers if they show signs of cracking under pressure and are unable to control their emotions.
- Being socially aware: Emotional intelligence, self-knowledge, and the ability to serve others are all skills connected with social awareness. Just as the sales team, support team, and engineering team all have their own issues about how to sell, support, and construct the product, so too must the PM understand the emotions and concerns of the product’s end users.
Is it safe to assume that the most effective project managers will always find success in their careers if they possess both strong core skills and high emotional intelligence (EQ)? Not necessarily. Put simply, the key to success is finding the perfect company for your unique set of abilities and character qualities and then using them to work there.
The sort of product you are developing (business-to-business, business-to-consumer, or industry), the individuals with whom you will work, the general culture of the company (diversity, inclusion, flexible work hours, and culture of remote work), and, of course, the remuneration and perks are all important aspects to take into consideration while looking for a new position. There are also a number of papers on recruiting product managers, which might provide insight into what the recruiters are looking for. Before you commit to your next position, give careful consideration to the aforementioned factors if your goal is to become an excellent product manager. Throughout the course of your career, developing your core talents will be a continuous effort, and making use of your emotional intelligence will make this process more enjoyable. But the place you work, the way they do business, as well as the people you work for and alongside will ultimately define your success in the long run.