What characteristics set a great product manager apart from a good one?

Was trying to figure out, “What qualities set a good Product Manager apart from a great Product Manager?”

Some of the qualities I could think of are:

  1. Visionary Leadership
  2. Strategic Thinking
  3. Customer-Centric Mindset
  4. Strong Communication Skills
  5. Decision-Making Abilities
  6. Collaboration and Influence
  7. Continuous Learning
  8. Results-Driven Focus
  9. Resilience and Adaptability
  10. Passion and Ownership

If you could think of some more traits apart from these that can make a good PM a great PM, I’d like to hear them out.

Thanks in advance.


Here is my opinion:

  • A great PM gives up striving for perfection. Excellence and leadership are about the team’s performance and the PM’s ability to support it, not about individual talent.

  • The company should be larger than the team, a great PM is aware of this. Define excellence in the context of the company’s bigger objectives and various functions.

  • A great PM concentrates on why you are acting, rather than what you are acting. Spend time helping everyone within the company in comprehending the why.

  • Finally, a great PM tries to be honest and straightforward rather than trying to sound smart or knowledgeable.


This query has previously been asked to me by dirty hiring supervisors during dodgy interviews. What you say actually doesn’t matter because there is no right or wrong answer and it is incredibly subjective. There is no incorrect response if the person asking you likes you. The best response in the world won’t matter if the other person doesn’t like you.

By the way, you’ve answered your own query with an apt list below your question. I’d be very happy if you could please elaborate those points. Although they are self explanatory, but, maybe I might have a different perspective of them.


Cool observation @FelipeRibeiro. Thanks for sharing your insight.
I like your POV @BrandonMilne. As of my list, surely I can add a few words to the given list. A good Product Manager possesses several key characteristics that enable them to effectively manage and develop successful products. However, a great Product Manager goes beyond the basics and demonstrates exceptional qualities that set them apart. Here are some characteristics that differentiate a good Product Manager from a great one:

Visionary Leadership: A great Product Manager possesses a clear and compelling vision for the product. They inspire and motivate their team by effectively communicating the product’s long-term goals and strategy, while also aligning them with the company’s overall vision.

Strategic Thinking: While a good Product Manager focuses on tactical execution, a great Product Manager thinks strategically. They have a deep understanding of market trends, user needs, and competitive landscapes. They can anticipate future opportunities and challenges and develop innovative strategies to stay ahead.

Customer-Centric Mindset: Both good and great Product Managers understand the importance of customer-centricity. However, a great Product Manager goes the extra mile to deeply empathize with customers, conducting extensive user research, and translating customer feedback into actionable insights to deliver exceptional user experiences.

Strong Communication Skills: Effective communication is crucial for a Product Manager, but great Product Managers excel in this area. They have exceptional listening skills, can clearly articulate their ideas, and collaborate seamlessly with cross-functional teams. They communicate product vision, goals, and progress effectively, ensuring everyone is aligned and informed.

Decision-Making Abilities: While good Product Managers make informed decisions, great Product Managers excel at making tough decisions in ambiguous situations. They possess a strong analytical mindset, can weigh trade-offs, and make data-driven decisions. They are comfortable taking calculated risks and adapting their strategies based on feedback and market dynamics.

Collaboration and Influence: Good Product Managers collaborate well with various stakeholders, but great Product Managers excel at building relationships and influencing others. They can effectively manage and inspire teams, gain buy-in from executives, and foster strong partnerships with engineering, design, marketing, and other departments.

Continuous Learning: Great Product Managers are lifelong learners who are constantly seeking to improve their skills and knowledge. They stay updated on industry trends, new technologies, and emerging best practices. They actively seek feedback, reflect on their experiences, and are open to adapting their approaches.

Results-Driven Focus: Good Product Managers deliver results, but great Product Managers are exceptionally focused on outcomes. They set ambitious goals, establish key performance indicators (KPIs), and track progress against these metrics. They continuously iterate on the product to improve performance and drive meaningful business impact.

Resilience and Adaptability: In the face of challenges and setbacks, great Product Managers demonstrate resilience. They can adapt quickly to changing circumstances, learn from failures, and pivot strategies when needed. They maintain a positive attitude, inspire their team, and persevere to achieve success.

Passion and Ownership: Both good and great Product Managers exhibit passion for their work, but great Product Managers take ownership to another level. They treat the product as if it were their own business and are deeply committed to its success. They take responsibility for outcomes, remain accountable, and drive the product forward with unwavering dedication.

While this list is not exhaustive, these characteristics provide an overview of what distinguishes a great Product Manager from a good one. Keep in mind that the qualities and skills required can vary depending on the industry, company culture, and specific product domain.


This question’s “use case” extends beyond preparation for interviews. For a handful of other examples, it can be utilized as a checklist for self-evaluation or as inspiration for personal growth.

I also believe that any one interview question might be answered with the statement “What you say actually doesn’t matter because there is no right or wrong answer and it is incredibly subjective”. However, a job interview isn’t much of a job interview if you don’t ask any questions.

Finally, to address your concern, this thread indicates how diverse the responses to this topic may be. This question could help me as the interviewer determine whether the candidate has focused on honing the abilities I believe are essential for success in this position. For instance, if my pain point is clear user story writing for developers and we’ve operationalized the transmission of feedback from customer service and sales, I’m more likely to hire someone who lists clear user story writing as a key success metric than someone who cites requirements gathering from customer interviews.

No question is unworthy of being asked, whether in an interview or on social media, simply because it is subjective.


Great answers already shared here. so I will only this:

Great PMs do not seek to be great PMs. But instead they strive to:

  1. Build great products.
  2. Be part of a great team (or build one).
  3. Not take the job too seriously (it is still a job) and find fun in it (and make it a fun environment for everyone too)
  • Great PMs simplify life for everyone around them. objectives, procedures, and communication should all be simple.

  • Great PMs make sure everyone on the team is aware of their responsibilities and the rationale behind them. The big picture of where we are going and why our current steps are important. Everybody has a stake in the product’s success. Everyone is aware of their unique contributions and should feel proud of them.

  • Great PMs are the best at understanding how their product fits into the market and the lives of its users, as well as its future and commercialization strategies.

  • Great PMs deal with issues that prevent the organization from producing a quality product without distraction or drama. Whether it’s the CEO, CTO, CFO, a teammate, or a process, it doesn’t matter.


Wonderful points @KaneMorgan. To add on:

  • Great PMs are take care of their team compensation wise. They ensure that employees are fairly and competitively compensated for their work, considering factors such as market rates, industry standards, and individual performance.

  • Additionally, great PMs also prioritize creating a transparent and equitable compensation structure that promotes employee satisfaction and retention.

Way too often PMs are not valued, in my experience, that’s a big red flag in the organization.


These ideas are great, so I bookmarked them for later use. However, if you will allow me to add the following:

  • Great PMs have an agile mindset. In the sense that they are data-driven, inevitably gathering insights and keeping an eye on metrics.
  • Maintain close communication with clients, users, and stakeholders, whether through interviews or prototypes, and a quick feedback loop.

Here’s my two cents, from my experience of working in four different companies—from Fortune 20 to startups—and observing number of PMs:

Great product managers are constantly curious and eager to learn, and they have extensive knowledge of the business and the industry. They have a better ability to put themselves in the shoes of the user, which gives them a stronger product sense in that they can decide on design and functionality quickly and intuitively.

In the midst of complexity, chaos, ambiguity, and uncertainty, they maintain their composure. inadequate ego. strong project management and organization skills. They are adept at operations, stakeholder management, requirement gathering, coordinating team dependencies, and solving issues because they have intimate relationships with many people in the company and a thorough understanding of the organizational chart. All of this is classified as having “soft skills.” A positive attitude goes a long way. They are typically go-getters who aren’t afraid to delve into complicated business paperwork.

Great product managers are conversant in the technical terms used in every business function, from engineering to finance, and they can act as communication hubs that have the added benefit of facilitating wise decisions. They excel at product shipping and execution in general.

When conducting discovery, great PMs can communicate effectively with designers and have a basic understanding of experimental research methodology.

They are proficient in all software engineering jargon, understand the modern software architecture, and the entire development cycle, including maintenance, iteration, and MVPs. They are capable of formulating concise, logical requirements that foresee important edge cases and exercising sound judgment in response to those edge cases. They excel at balancing competing priorities such as timeliness, quality, and scope.


Fantastic thread and very helpful comments (replies). Thanks for posting OP. If you don’t mind, may I add to your reply @EvaRichardson :

  • Great PMs are adept at gathering the data they require in the data architecture that the company uses.
  • Although it may seem strange, in my experience, great PMs are able to type quickly and take excellent notes. They write with clarity and conciseness.
  • Great PMs are also excellent public speakers.
  • Great PMs have vivid imaginations. They are capable of imagining a different, better world and have big, ambitious ideas as well as divergent thinking.
  • Great PMs are able to reason using if-then statements and have a basic understanding of logic.
  • Great PMs are also not always dependent on a formal prioritization “framework.”
  • Great PMs possess a keen intuition that has been honed over years of experience, as well as sound judgment in a variety of situations. If a formal analysis is required, they can perform it, but they typically do not and instead rely on their in-depth understanding of their industry and product to make wise decisions.

Great PMs possess most of these traits to some degree or another. But it’s a spectrum of ability between good and great and great PMs are just stronger in all these dimensions.


This is a fantastic overview for the level I want to reach, but it’s much easier said than done to do these things well. Where I work, it’s unlikely that meeting each of these requirements will lead to an exceptional rating.

To excel, I’m looking for ways to assist the business sector I’m in, strengthen the bonds that already exist between the various parts of the team and work to showcase the work they can produce (e.g., partner up on delivering a new data visualization or do a proof of concept on a tech that our competitors have achieved). Working in this manner feels good, and in my experience, helping those around you ultimately pays off for you.


I came across this and thought it an apt read related to this topic;


Here is my take:

Good product manager: Gets everyone aligned during the kickoff.

Great product manager: Gets everyone aligned way before the kickoff, so the CPO cancels the meeting so everyone can do something more productive.

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Very good responses in this thread. One thing I would point out is that it takes a lot of effort and discipline to be a great PM, as managing org trashiness and politics plays a significant role in being a great PM. Because it can wear you out, IMO it is unsustainable over the long term. The right strategy is to focus on one or two things, but often you may not have a choice.

Secondly, the entire company should be talking about great PMs. They should be well-versed in all subjects to engage in meaningful conversation with anyone and be aware of the best sources for in-depth responses. They ought to be aware of how people behave and interact (both customers and business).

Additionally, they should always look past the what and delve as deeply into the why as they can.