Institute of Product Leadership
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Traits of an Excellent Product Manager

By Kapil Verma – Chief Product Officer at MakeMyTrip

In this blog, we will explore what sets exceptional product managers apart from the rest, and how they can excel in their roles. We will discuss the importance of understanding customers deeply, having a clear vision and product strategy, making the right decisions, saying no to unnecessary features, thinking big, and being an effective conductor for cross-functional teams.

Key Takeaways:

  • Exceptional product managers prioritise deep customer understanding. They go beyond surface needs and anticipate unarticulated pain points to develop solutions that truly resonate.
  • A clear vision for the product’s future is crucial. This vision guides development and informs the product strategy, a roadmap for achieving goals through strategic choices.
  • Exceptional product managers make informed decisions using data and frameworks like RICE, Kano model, and Lean principles. MVPs and customer feedback further refine decision-making.
  • Effective prioritisation involves saying no more often than yes to maintain a focused product roadmap. Frameworks like the impact-effort matrix help prioritise features based on value and feasibility.
  • Product managers act as conductors, leading and aligning cross-functional teams like engineering, design, and business to deliver successful products. Strong communication, collaboration, and influence skills are essential.
In this article
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    Traits of an Excellent Product Manager

    Understanding Customers Deeply

    An exceptional product manager understands their customers so well that they can anticipate unarticulated pain points and develop solutions for them. They go beyond what customers say and delve into what they truly need. By conducting customer interviews, listening to support calls, analysing data, and using techniques like the PR FAQ process, product managers can gain deep insights into customer behaviour and preferences.

    Having a Clear Vision and Product Strategy

    An exceptional product manager has a clear vision of where they want their product to be in the future. This vision serves as a guiding light for product development and sets the direction for the product strategy. The product strategy outlines how the product will achieve the vision and involves making strategic choices. With a well-defined vision and strategy, product managers can stay focused on the long-term goals of their product.

    Making the Right Decisions

    An exceptional product manager follows a systematic process to make the right decisions. They understand the importance of data and use frameworks like the RICE framework, Kano model, and the Lean product management philosophy to prioritise features and projects. By launching minimal viable products (MVPs) and iterating based on customer feedback, product managers can gather valuable insights and make informed decisions about product development.

    Saying No a Lot

    Effective prioritisation is a key trait of exceptional product managers. They say no to more features than they say yes to, ensuring a focused and impactful roadmap. By using frameworks like the impact-effort matrix and considering factors like reach, impact, confidence, and effort, product managers can make strategic choices and prioritise features that deliver the most value to customers and the business.

    Thinking 10x, Not Just 10%

    An exceptional product manager thinks beyond incremental improvements and aims for 10x impact. They look for ideas and solutions that have an order of magnitude improvement and can transform the customer experience. By thinking big and pushing the boundaries, product managers can differentiate their products and stay ahead of the competition.

    Being an Effective Conductor

    Product managers are at the centre of cross-functional teams, working with engineering, design, and business teams. Exceptional product managers act as conductors, bringing all these teams together to create a symphony. They collaborate, communicate, and ensure alignment across different domains to deliver a successful product.


    In conclusion, exceptional product managers possess traits that set them apart from the rest. They understand their customers deeply, have a clear vision and product strategy, make informed decisions, prioritise effectively, think big, and act as effective conductors for cross-functional teams. By embodying these traits, product managers can excel in their roles and drive the success of their products.

    About the Author:

    Kapil VermaChief Product Officer at MakeMyTrip

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Transitioning to product leadership involves gaining experience in product management, honing leadership skills, and showcasing a track record of successful product outcomes. Start by excelling in product management roles, taking on leadership responsibilities, and seeking mentorship from established product leaders.

    To transition to a product management role, focus on acquiring relevant skills such as market research, user experience design, and strategic thinking. Tailor your resume to highlight transferable skills and consider obtaining certifications in product management. Networking with professionals in the field and seeking informational interviews can also open doors to opportunities.

    Moving into product leadership involves demonstrating a deep understanding of product management, showcasing leadership qualities, and taking on roles with increasing responsibilities. Seek out leadership opportunities within your current organization, mentor junior team members, and stay updated on industry trends to position yourself as a valuable asset for leadership roles.

    Yes, product management is inherently a leadership role. Product managers are responsible for guiding the development and success of a product, which involves making strategic decisions, collaborating with cross-functional teams, and aligning efforts towards a common vision. Effective product managers exhibit strong leadership skills to drive innovation and achieve business objectives.

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