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How to Be in the Top 1% of Product Managers

By Lokesh Tripathi – Director, Product Management & Product Design, Intuit

In the competitive landscape of product management, standing out from the crowd and achieving success requires a unique combination of dedication, skills, and strategic thinking. Furthermore, the demand for exceptional product managers has skyrocketed with organizations striving to deliver innovative and successful products.

Hence in order to be in the top 1% of product managers you must consistently demonstrate your outstanding leadership and a relentless commitment to excellence. It goes beyond simply managing a product; it’s about understanding the market, anticipating customer needs, and leading cross-functional teams toward a shared vision.

In this blog, we will delve into the secrets of becoming a top-tier product manager, covering essential aspects such as customer immersion, decision-making, adaptability, remote research, prioritization, ethics, scaling strategies, and multitasking.

Key Takeaways:

  • Exceptional product managers understand the cultural context and tailor solutions to meet local market needs.
  • Core traits such as intellectual curiosity, analytical skills, and customer empathy distinguish top-tier product managers.
  • Navigating remote customer research requires strategic planning and leveraging on-ground resources for valuable insights.
  • Effective prioritization and scaling based on customer and business value are essential for success.
  • Building strong relationships with stakeholders, continuous learning, and data-driven decision-making are critical skills for top-tier product managers.

The skills and qualities that could make a product manager exceptional include:

1. Cultural Context Matters:

Understanding local markets, customers’ unique needs, customer empathy, and deep market understanding, holds immense importance for success. Though most of the products are designed in developed markets and imported, product managers need to focus on the local context and tailor solutions accordingly. 

2. Mastering Core Traits:

Intellectual curiosity, analytical skills, and the ability to empathize with customers are the few core traits that distinguish exceptional product managers. Successful product manager immerses themselves in the customer’s world, understanding their pain points and developing solutions that truly make their lives easier. Collaboration with cross-functional teams, including engineering and design, is also vital for driving successful product outcomes.

3. Navigating Remote Customer Research:

You must have an understanding of the challenges encountered during conducting remote customer research. Hence having someone like customer account managers or sales agents on the ground to gather valuable insights and establish connections can streamline the process. By defining specific scenarios and reaching out to customers in the target market, meaningful interviews can be conducted and you can also address pertinent concerns. 

4. Prioritization and Scaling for Success:

To allocate their resources effectively, product managers must be able to set their priorities correctly based on customer value and enterprise value. Metrics for product adoption and customer satisfaction scores can be used as key performance indicators. Revenue targets and bug resolution timeframes are other critical areas of focus. Moreover, effective prioritization ensures that your product delivers maximum impact while aligning with business goals and objectives.

5. The Power of Stakeholder Management:

Building strong relationships with key stakeholders, such as executives, development teams, and sales personnel, can greatly impact the success of a product. By aligning their interests and maintaining open lines of communication, product managers can navigate complex organizational dynamics and ensure all parties are working towards a common goal.

6. Continuous Learning and Adaptability:

Continuous learning and adaptability should be embraced efficiently to remain relevant and competitive. Keeping up with industry trends, attending conferences, participating in workshops, and networking with other professionals are all crucial for personal growth. The ability to adopt change and pivot strategies based on market feedback is a hallmark of successful product managers.

7. Building a Culture of Innovation:

To foster innovation within an organization, product managers must create a culture that embraces experimentation and risk-taking. By encouraging diverse perspectives, promoting a safe environment for sharing ideas, and rewarding creative thinking, product managers can inspire their teams to push boundaries and come up with groundbreaking solutions. Building a culture that values learning from failures and celebrating successes drives continuous improvement and propels the organization forward.

8. Data-Driven Decision-Making:

Product managers must leverage data to drive decision-making. Hence, they should embrace analytics tools and techniques to collect, analyze, and interpret data related to user behavior, market trends, and product performance. By making informed decisions based on data insights, product managers can mitigate risks, optimize product features, and enhance the overall user experience.

9. The Art of Influence and Communication:

Product managers must possess strong, clear, and concise communication and influencing skills to effectively convey their vision, gain buy-in from stakeholders, and rally teams towards a common objective. They must be able to tailor their messages according to the target audiences and use storytelling techniques to inspire and engage others. By mastering the art of influence, product managers can build strong alliances, navigate organizational challenges, and drive successful product launches.

Frequently Asked Questions

Exceptional product managers possess core traits such as intellectual curiosity, analytical skills, and customer empathy. They immerse themselves in the customer’s world, collaborate effectively with cross-functional teams, and deliver successful product outcomes.

Understanding local markets and customers’ unique needs is crucial for success. While products may be designed in developed markets, tailoring solutions to the local context ensures relevance and customer satisfaction.

Building strong relationships, aligning interests, and maintaining open communication with key stakeholders, including executives, development teams, and sales personnel helps navigate organizational dynamics and ensures all parties work towards a common goal.

About the Author

Lokesh Tripathi – Director, Product Management & Product Design, Intuit

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