101 PM Skillset
What does it take to thrive as a Product Manager?
How are you today? I hope you’re having a good time and rocking the world.
Today’s episode is the monthly freemium. Here’s what to expect:
Subscribers: High-level PM Skillset (5 minutes reading)
Premium Subscribers: Detailed explanation of the required skills to rock as a PM (21 minutes reading)
Let me cut to the chase and give you some value!
Be Careful! There’s Much Noise Out There!
Frameworks. Frameworks. Frameworks.
More frameworks won’t help you rock the world. To rock it, you need something else.
All the time, I get the same question: which’s the best product framework? Which Agile framework should I use? Wrong questions, sorry.
It’s not about the framework. It’s about creating value while adapting to what’s necessary. Creating digital products is anything but trivial.
Here are the five characteristics PMs need to thrive:
Leadership → It’s all about leading, not managing
Communication → Knowing how to exchange and create value out of it is key
Teamwork → Collaboration with multiple teams is mandatory
Product Management → Knowing the core aspects of creating products is vital
Techniques → Creating a Swiss knife and knowing when to use what is handy
Great product managers are inspiring leaders, not boring managers. Until one learns how to inspire others to act and lead by context, success is just a dream.
The exciting aspect of leadership for PMs is the lack of mandate. You don’t lead because you’re the boss but because you set the direction for the product and inspire others to dream of a brighter future.
My biggest inspiration for leadership is Simon Sinek. He says:
A great leader isn’t the one who comes up with all the great ideas but the one who creates the space where great ideas can happen.
Knowing what to communicate, when to whom, and how is mandatory for PMs. Communication is nothing like one size fits all. It requires tailoring it according to your audience and message.
On top of that, the secret is creating clarity with communication and not confusion. Great PMs master the art of asking questions and helping others decide when something is worth pursuing and when not.
A great PM is an outstanding storyteller. You know how to get others to listen to you and understand your message. It is often about using anecdotes that resonate with people and help them grasp what you mean.
Without solid communication skills, product managers fail.
PMs sit between chairs. Product teams, business, customers. You can only create value once you know how to work with all of them. It’s about being part of multiple teams and collaborating over coordinating.
It’s hard work but can be fun once you simplify what others complicate.
I won’t lie. It’s tough to be a PM. Stakeholders will pressure you to deliver on their wants, team members long for direction, leadership wants results, and customers want you to improve their lives.
The secret is striving for a collaborative way of working instead of a coordinative one.
The more you coordinate, the less you have time to create value.
The more you collaborate, the more you can thrive together.
4. Product Management
Most people start from here. They want to know the top-notch Product Management methods and tools, but I’d recommend otherwise.
You cannot succeed without solid leadership, strong communication skills, and great teamwork. Product management is necessary but won’t get the job done if you lack the others. One can learn and practice PM practices, but an obsession with that while ignoring the previous will get you in trouble.
A few weeks ago, I posted the core of product management that may help you understand this discipline in a nutshell:
Product Strategy → Set the direction to enable focus
Product Discovery → Uncover what creates value
Product Delivery → Discover what creates value
If you want to go a step further, I’ve got some quizzes to assess your knowledge:
You will find hundreds, if not thousands, of techniques to support you with digital products. Most are just noise. Knowing what brings value and what complicates your life is fundamental. Sometimes, you need to experiment with something and then drop it because it doesn’t get the job done.
My learning is simple. Your job is to drive value and not to follow frameworks by the book.
Now, let’s nail these skills in detail and clarify what you need and don’t. I will give you a clear definition of skills and how to grow each one of them.
We will go through 37 skills to get you ready to stand out. Shall we rock it?
Overview of All Skills
It takes years to develop all skills. I’d love to promise you shortcuts, but I cannot bullshit you, that’s not me. Yet, I can describe the differences between an associate product manager and a leader. Then, I can elaborate on how you evolve with each skill.
You can have a high-level overview of all skills here.
Now let me clarify my understanding of different levels:
Associate → Can get the job done well with the support of a more experienced PM
Intermediate → Can rock product management without anyone’s help
Senior → Can level up junior members to an intermediate level
Leader → Can structure how teams work and create space where they can thrive
That said, let’s start with the Leadership skills.