What abilities would you like to see more of in product managers?

I’m a PM, and I’m curious as to the abilities you want the PMs you work with now or have in the past possessed more of. Which are the most significant? Self-awareness, confidence, technical proficiency, and communication abilities are a few examples I’ve heard. Agree/disagree? Which additional abilities?


I’ll speak for myself as a Technical PM. Because they could hardly comprehend an API, I’ve seen a lot of PMs utterly lose their technical teams. The ability to have a semi-informed dialogue with the engineering team makes it so much simpler to establish a connection with them, even while I don’t believe that PMs should be very technical to the point of being able to code a solution. Even if you possess all the soft skills in the world, you risk losing vital time if you are unable to communicate with the team that will have the biggest impact on the success of your product.

Anecdotal, of course, but I changed from being a PM who frequently agreed to a deadline only to completely miss it to one who was able to make sure we met all of our deadlines in '22. I didn’t change anything other than to improve my technical skills.


That’s significant @HerbertWarnick. Can you please elaborate what technical skills or technologies did you pick up? And what resources did you use? Pretty much my dilemma too.


I’ve had similar experience. Basically, just spent 6 months doing Udemy web development courses and building silly little websites. Took my understanding of what the devs do to an entirely different level and I can have much more productive conversations with them.


This is awesome. Any specific ones you’d recommend to this community?


Great to hear this and agree. Glad to hear of similar value coming from being able to have these productive discussions with devs. I’ve found you don’t need to be too technical but doesn’t hurt. Funny to read this all as my manager had told me to stop interfacing with the devs in these kinds of conversations, even though they were new (and our project required extensive product knowledge). Turned out to be critical to the successful delivery and glad I could understand their perspectives.


Yes, there is a delicate line to be crossed in this situation. I’ve discovered that I now understand the developers’ delight in their meticulous engineering much better. makes it easier to decide what should be built now rather than later, among other decisions.


I took a few actions. To be able to point out exactly where things needed to go when our product had a feature that called for overlapping services, I first analysed the architecture of our complete product suite. Second, I’ve been reading a lot about react native lately. never wrote any code at all. I recently conducted extensive online research. The last one isn’t a given for all PMs, so I’ll mention it: two years ago, I enrolled in classes to increase my SQL knowledge from beginner to advanced, and I even dabbled in noSQL. This alone is helpful, especially when talking about database-level issues, even if they are merely trying to establish something’s schema.

In the end, it just helped me establish a relationship with the team by demonstrating that I made an attempt to better grasp their perspective in an effort to make their life easier. Because I wouldn’t just say “no” because I didn’t understand, it made scope talks simpler. They could then present a more technical response.


Love this and +1 - SQL and building knowledge about RN has helped me too. Thanks!


I also believe on this one, If you have technical expertise of a platform and the ability to recognize blind spots, you can truly nail down the problem-solving and efficiency improvements in carefully scoped development work.


I reject this. You must be able to inquire (how many users can this support simultaneously? Do we intend to put ourselves in a box? Is it going to be simple to maintain this service? What will this cost me? Which more services are affected? Etc.), but that is all.

To be honest, when I protect my IT teams from stakeholders, prepare efforts and goals in advance, consider edge scenarios, etc., they respect me the most. Both they and I do not want me to perform technical tasks there.


@TinaGreist, just because I understand and can have an informed conversation with developers doesn’t mean I’m not still doing all of my other job requirements (items you listed in your 2nd paragraph). I’m not hands on keyboard coding (nor do I want to) and I’m not solutioning for them at all. I’m also not spending days or even hours worrying about technical items, but it helps in grooming and other planning meetings when the team is discussing technical implementation and asking me questions. It also helps me facilitate conversations with engineering teams we’ll need to partner with to deliver a feature so that the onus isn’t completely on the tech lead.

This is why I said for me personally because I have the soft skills and do all of the other pre requisites required as a PM. If you are struggling with the basic pillars of being a good PM you should 100% not be spending your time worrying about technical skills.

It also wholly depends on your organization. I am a lead at a smaller company (less than 250 employees) so we wear many hats and take on a lot of work that a PM at a larger org would not.

The beauty of being a PM is what works for you and your org may not work for a PM at another org and that is 100% okay.


Based on the analysis of the industry trends and feedback from professionals in the field, here are some of the skills that Product Managers may benefit from developing further:

  1. Data analysis: Product Managers need to be comfortable with data and should have the ability to analyze, interpret, and draw insights from it to inform product decisions.
  2. User research: Conducting user research is crucial to understand users’ needs and behavior, and to ensure that the product meets their expectations. Therefore, product managers should have experience in planning, conducting, and analyzing user research.
  3. Technical knowledge: Product Managers should have a good understanding of the technical aspects of the product, including its architecture, design, and development. This knowledge can help them to better communicate with developers and other stakeholders.
  4. Communication: Strong communication skills are essential for Product Managers to be able to collaborate effectively with cross-functional teams, including engineers, designers, marketers, and executives.
  5. Leadership: Product Managers should have excellent leadership skills to inspire and motivate their teams, and to ensure that everyone is aligned towards the product’s goals and vision.
  6. Business acumen: Product Managers should have a solid understanding of the business model and revenue streams of the company to ensure that their product strategy aligns with the overall business strategy.
  7. Adaptability: Product Managers should be able to adapt to changing market conditions, user needs, and new technologies, and be able to pivot their product strategy accordingly.

Overall, Product Managers should strive to have a well-rounded set of skills that balance technical, analytical, and interpersonal competencies, as this can help them to succeed in the highly competitive and dynamic tech industry.


I mean, looking at the question OP asked:

Being ‘technical’ is a nice to have, but hardly necessary IMO. It’s not something I even ask about in interviews. Sure, you should know what an API is. But I can explain that to you in 5 minutes.


Again @NaomiNwosu, I think it’s extremely reliant on the org. The more hats you wear, the more you’ll need to know.

I have excellent friends who were terrible project managers and lost their technical teams completely because they were forced to repeatedly repeat themselves, explain things simply, or leave out important nuances. The widespread engineering quip that “all PMs are stupid” stems from the reality that a large proportion of engineers lack basic technical literacy. A PM should, in my opinion, also have excellent soft skills. I’m not advocating that you start teaching yourself how to create apps because a PM shouldn’t need to know how to do that. I’m proposing to learn just enough to converse in their language and comprehend their culture.


In my opinion, Delegation, prioritization, and when needed, ability/willingness to say NO.


@JaneWinfred, my boss is the problem, she can’t say no to anyone and loves to play the “toss it in the backlog to die” game.


I worked in a group like that, and while there was tons of praise for the small amount of work they could deliver, the team was chronically unable to scale up beyond the small group they had while the backlog kept growing to a point where it was just useless, and everyone operated on the HiPPO principle.


What is the HiPPO principle?

Can you please elaborate this?


Yes sure, Delegation, Prioritization, and the ability/willingness to say No are also important skills for Product Managers to have. Here’s why:

  1. Delegation: As a Product Manager, you are responsible for the overall success of the product, but you cannot do everything yourself. Delegation is important to ensure that tasks are completed efficiently and effectively. By delegating tasks to the right people on the team, Product Managers can focus on higher-level strategic tasks, such as product vision and roadmap planning.
  2. Prioritization: Product Managers are often faced with numerous competing demands and must be able to prioritize tasks based on their importance and impact on the product’s success. This requires a deep understanding of the product’s goals and user needs, as well as the ability to balance short-term and long-term objectives.
  3. Ability/willingness to say no: Product Managers must be able to make tough decisions and say no to requests that don’t align with the product’s goals or are not feasible within the available resources. This requires tact and diplomacy to manage stakeholder expectations while staying true to the product vision and roadmap.

Thus, delegation, prioritization, and the ability/willingness to say no are important skills that help Product Managers to be effective leaders and make informed decisions that drive the success of their products.

BTW, HiPPO principle means Highest Paid Person’s Opinion decides.