The product manager role isn’t meant for everyone. Just as it takes a special type of person to be a programmer or designer, it takes a particular type of person to thrive as a product manager. Here are some qualities that I think are necessary:
- Vision. This largely consists of being able to understand the essence of emerging trends and applying them in new contexts. It is not necessarily conceiving new ideas, but it entails connecting existing ideas in new ways.
- Understanding how different people think. A product manager must get deep in the heads of many types of people with diverse mindsets; engineers, designers, sales, customers, etc.. Working well with different roles and building products for real people takes a great deal of emotional intelligence.
- Visual communication. A product manager must be talented at clearly communicating new concepts, either through user interfaces for customers or through diagrams communicating product strategy. Inventing new visual metaphors is inevitably necessary.
- Logic. A product manager must be able to think very rigorously about the design of systems, the tactics of execution, and the analysis of performance.
- Passion. A product manager must show great tenacity in pushing things through. You have to love what you’re doing and live for seeing results.