Close this search box.

The Top 5 Skills You Need To Succeed in Product Management

By Puja Lakhlani – Head of Product Management, UST Product Engineering

Product management is a highly versatile field requiring a unique blend of skills and abilities to set individuals sailing in today’s competitive corporate landscape. Product managers are entrusted with the crucial responsibility of overseeing the overall lifecycle of a product, requiring them to cultivate a diverse set of skills that go beyond technical expertise. Whether you are an aspiring product manager or looking forward to enhancing your existing skill set, understanding the key competencies of Product management is essential. 

In this blog, we will delve into the top five major roles and responsibilities of product manager and the skills required to attain success. These skills have been identified by the in-depth analysis of industry insights and the expertise of renowned product leaders.

Key Takeaways:

  • Strategic thinking is essential for problem-solving and generating compelling ideas.
  • Customer advocacy and market sensing help understand customer pain points and uncover hidden opportunities.
  • Effective communication is crucial for conveying messages, influencing stakeholders, and fostering collaboration.
  • Leadership skills are important for rallying teams and driving them toward shared goals.
  • Execution skills involve prioritizing tasks, making data-driven decisions, and delivering tangible results.

5 Key Skills Needed to Suceed in Product Management

With the product managers being a core part of the entire product process, they need to hone certain skills in order to get their products the required reach, including: 

1. Strategic Thinking:

Strategic thinking is the ability to gauge the critical factors and variables that might influence the long-term success of a company. As a product manager, you will always be faced with different challenges and goals to achieve, which could be easily dealt with by strategic thinking. Strategic thinking is all about developing a mindset with laying your major focus on logical problem-solving, active participation in discussions, and generating compelling ideas. By adopting a strategic mindset, you can ensure your strategies are grounded with facts and have a higher chance of success. Furthermore, to strengthen this skill, it is always recommended to question assumptions, identify blind spots,  test hypotheses, and engage in continuous learning, such as reading industry literature and participating in strategic thinking courses.

2. Customer Advocacy and Market Sensing:

Customer advocacy and market sensing are two interconnected skills that are paramount for success in product life cycle management. Customer advocacy deals with understanding the pain points and problems faced by customers, while market sensing focuses on gaining insights into the buying behavior of customers. An in-depth understanding of your customers plays a major role in amplifying your product’s growth potential and obtaining valuable feedback for product improvements. Furthermore, spending time with customers, conducting user research, and utilizing techniques like the “Jobs-To-Be-Done” framework can also help you uncover several unmet needs and hidden opportunities. Developing empathy and aligning your product with the goals and aspirations of customers are essential aspects of customer advocacy and market sensing.

3. Communication:

Effective communication tends to be a critical soft skill required for almost every job, but it plays a major role in product management. With product manager roles required to communicate with various stakeholders, including cross-functional teams, executives, customers, and developers, they must be able to convey their message effectively, influence others, and foster collaboration. The message delivered must be tailored in accordance with the audience with the language spoken being familiar for establishing alignment and shared understanding. Successful communication is attributed to building genuine relationships with stakeholders, understanding their challenges, and effectively managing expectations. 

4. Leadership:

Leadership is one of the most important skills for a product manager to possess. It involves the ability to rally teams, stakeholders, and customers around a shared vision and goals. An effective product manager is always able to create the necessary energy and drive that transforms product aspirations into tangible results. Building empathy, understanding team dynamics, and demonstrating strong guiding values and principles are the three pillars of effective leadership. With honing their leadership skills and seeking out role models and mentors, product managers can resolve any conflict, guide values, and drive teams toward success. 

5. Execution:

Execution refers to the skill of turning plans into measurable outcomes that create a lasting impact on the business. Though we all are well aware of the importance of well-thought-out strategies, the ability to translate them into reality is equally important. Making critical decisions, prioritizing tasks, and staying focused on delivering results are essential aspects of the roles of product managers. Hence as a product manager, you must improve your execution skills by maintaining a laser-sharp focus on the end goal, leveraging tools like A/B testing, and making data-driven decisions. Furthermore, also remember that execution is not just about talking the talk but also walking the walk, and delivering tangible results moving business forward.

Frequently Asked Questions

The three pillars of product management are strategy, execution, and empathy. The strategy involves defining the product vision, roadmap, and market positioning. Execution focuses on successfully delivering and launching the product. Empathy involves understanding and meeting customer needs through user research and feedback.

The seven stages of product management include ideation, research, planning, development, testing, launch, and post-launch.

A product roadmap is a visual representation of a product’s strategic direction and planned development over time. It outlines the key features, initiatives, and milestones that will be delivered, helping align stakeholders and guide the product team in achieving their goals.

The field of product management is constantly evolving, and there are several key trends that are expected to shape the profession in 2024 and beyond. These trends include:

  • The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)
  • The shift to cloud-based computing
  • The growing importance of user experience (UX)
  • The increasing focus on customer success

Product managers need to have a wide range of skills in order to be successful. These skills include:

  • Technical skills: Product managers need to have a strong understanding of technology and be able to communicate effectively with engineers and other technical stakeholders.
  • Business skills: Product managers need to understand the business and be able to make decisions that are aligned with the company’s goals.
  • Communication skills: Product managers need to be able to communicate effectively with a variety of stakeholders, including customers, engineers, designers, and executives.
  • Leadership skills: Product managers need to be able to lead and motivate cross-functional teams.
  • Problem-solving skills: Product managers need to be able to identify and solve problems effectively.

The core skill of a product manager is the ability to make informed decisions. Product managers need to be able to gather and analyze data, identify trends, and make recommendations that will improve the product.

What is the number one skill of a product manager?

The number one skill of a product manager is the ability to understand and empathize with users. Product managers need to be able to see the product from the user’s perspective and understand their needs and wants.

What hard skills do I need to be a product manager?

In addition to the soft skills listed above, product managers also need to have a few hard skills. These skills include:

  • Data analysis: Product managers need to be able to collect, analyze, and interpret data.
  • Project management: Product managers need to be able to manage and execute projects effectively.
  • User research: Product managers need to be able to conduct user research and understand user needs.
  • Product design: Product managers need to have a basic understanding of product design principles.

While product managers don’t need to be able to code, it is helpful to have some basic coding skills. This will allow them to understand the capabilities and limitations of different technologies and communicate more effectively with engineers.

About the Author

Puja Lakhlani – Head of Product Management, UST Product Engineering

Puja joins UST BlueConch with a strong product background in the Human Capital industries, where she served as a trusted Product, Strategy, and Digital Transformation leader. Throughout her career, she’s managed large product portfolios generating over $500M in revenue. Most recently, at ADP and First Advantage Corp., she executed timely deliverables, delivered business transformational products, and implemented data-driven strategies that aligned with current and future market needs.

Explore Our Programs

Institute of Product Leadership is Asia’s First Business School providing accredited degree programs and certification courses exclusively in Product Management, Strategy, and Leadership.

Talk to a counselor today and embark on your journey towards becoming an exceptional product manager.

Whether you’re seeking advice on career paths, looking to enhance your skills, or facing challenges in your current role, our counselors are ready to provide valuable insights and actionable strategies.