What qualities characterize an excellent product manager?

I am curious to know what defines a great product manager and what distinguishes them from others. I believe a great product manager should not only perform the required work but also make the company unique. I am interested in improving their skills but don’t see anything special about the quality of product managers. I believe that companies with talented teams like FAANG have different quality standards. I’ve also seen that some people misunderstand that all product managers are males, but they are not native English speakers. I’m interested in understanding the difference between male and female product managers.
Your insights on this shall be highly appreciated.


Knowing your product sufficiently to avoid pursuing irrational or unattainable objectives Comprehending the market sufficiently to avoid pursuing unprofitable endeavors (which need not equate to increased sales) When considering whether or not to pursue a “new” idea, always prioritize creating a minimum viable product (MVP) and steer clear of the sunk cost fallacy.

Finally, while this is not a must but always a benefit, getting some practical experience performing the “grunt work” in your business will provide you with insightful knowledge and assist you in making wise judgments. To further enhance your overall development and success in the field, maintain an open mind and be flexible in the face of both successes and setbacks.


What would you define as grunt work here? I’m interested in transitioning to product management and am curious about how to gain experience.


@TerryAnthony, By that, I mean that you have to have really worked in construction for a while if you are managing construction projects. If you are in technology management, you have actually spent some time in software development.

I’ve streamlined a ton of stuff in my role, but that’s because I worked for many years as a software developer and know enough to just answer questions or stop problems in their tracks rather than having to write tickets, receive feedback from developers, follow up with clients, ask additional questions, etc.


We are a Canadian tech company with over 10,000 employees, and I aspire to be a great product manager. I have had a few successful years as a senior PM, receiving the top rating both years in a row and an extra bonus directly from our chief product officer (which is pretty good as he is many levels above me).

I would say that while some of what I do is largely circumstantial, it is still required for me to be very good.

I make judgments, engage in a lot of client interaction, am well-versed on our intricate products, and take on as much work as I can.

However, the reason I excelled in this particular instance is that I have relevant experience from doing this at a previous job, and we have a gap in impact measurement. I therefore distinguish myself by possessing pertinent talents that are now lacking in my colleagues and are precisely what we require.


@FlaviaBergstein, I want to know what you changed about the way you measure impact. I’m starting to notice a similar blind hole at my present company.


It isn’t easy. You basically need to do A/B tests and see if it moves product metrics that are associated with business metrics.

This takes some work to define the metrics. If you want to drive new customers, you could measure conversion from sign up to having completed certain key onboarding actions. Or, if it’s retention, you look at things like engagement rates etc.

This requires work to figure out those lead indicators.

Then, you see if you can move them with your features.

The hard part is now making sure you can randomly assign users to each group and then get enough sample size to have a good chance of seeing an effect where one exists (statistical power).

It’s a tough process to master but the results are super powerful as they are robust, so long the data is good and you aren’t p-hacking, both of which are very easy to get wrong.


Since product management has evolved into such an I’ll defined catch-all job to group a bunch of individuals doing VERY different things at different firms that being good in one place may get you fired in another, I don’t think there’s a universal definition of greatness that will leave you satisfied.

Traditionally, the role is meant to be owning a product’s go to market, therefore the PM, who is ultimately responsible for revenue and profitability, should at the very least coordinate all aspects of the product, including packaging and sales enablement.

Long-term PMs who have never owned P&L are common in tech companies, which I find absurd. However, when I interview some people, they speak as though making money is a dirty idea and sound more like designers than product managers.


Couple of assumptions in this post (not all PMs are male, not all PM talent is in FAANG) so based on my recency bias perhaps a good product manager doesn’t make assumptions. A good product manager goes beyond presumptions and relies on data-driven insights to make informed decisions. They understand the importance of diverse perspectives and actively seek input from team members with different backgrounds and experiences. Additionally, a good product manager is adaptable and open-minded, continuously learning and evolving their skills to stay ahead in an ever-changing industry.


An excellent product manager possesses a combination of skills, qualities, and attributes that set them apart in the field. While the expectations for a great product manager can vary somewhat depending on the company and the specific product, there are several key qualities that consistently characterize top-notch product managers:

  1. Strategic Thinker: Great product managers are strategic thinkers who can see the big picture. They understand the long-term goals of the company and can align their product’s roadmap with those objectives.

  2. Customer-Centric: They have a deep understanding of customer needs and can translate these insights into product features and improvements that solve real problems and provide value to users.

  3. Data-Driven: Exceptional product managers are highly analytical and use data to inform their decisions. They track key metrics, run experiments, and continuously optimize the product based on data-driven insights.

  4. Effective Communicator: Communication is a critical skill for product managers. They need to effectively communicate the product vision, roadmap, and priorities to cross-functional teams, executives, and stakeholders.

  5. Leadership: Strong leadership is vital. Product managers often lead cross-functional teams without direct authority over team members. They inspire and guide the team to achieve their goals.

  6. Problem Solver: They excel at problem-solving. Product managers regularly encounter complex challenges and must find innovative solutions, often with limited resources.

  7. Technical Aptitude: While not always required, a technical background can be beneficial, as it helps in understanding the product’s technical aspects and communicating effectively with the development team.

  8. Market Awareness: They keep a finger on the pulse of market trends and competitive landscapes. This helps in making informed decisions about the product’s direction.

  9. Adaptability: Great product managers are adaptable and can pivot when circumstances change. They are open to feedback and learning from both successes and failures.

  10. Empathy: Understanding the user’s perspective is crucial. Empathetic product managers can connect with users on a personal level and design products that truly meet their needs.

As for gender and native language, the effectiveness of a product manager is not determined by these factors. Male and female product managers can be equally successful if they possess the qualities mentioned above. Diversity in product management teams can bring different perspectives and ideas, which can be valuable in understanding a diverse user base and creating inclusive products. The most important factor is a product manager’s skills, experience, and their ability to contribute to the success of the product and the company. It’s crucial to foster an inclusive and diverse work environment where individuals from various backgrounds can thrive and contribute to their fullest potential.

In top tech companies like the FAANG group (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google), the expectations for product managers may indeed be high, and the competition can be fierce. However, the key qualities and skills mentioned earlier remain universal in distinguishing an excellent product manager in any company. Continuous learning and networking within the product management community can also help individuals improve their skills and stay competitive in the field.


The problem is that I don’t speak English as my first language, so when I say “himself” or “his,” I don’t mean that PMs are only men; it’s just how I say it and how it sounds in my original tongue. I suppose I should have used “themself” instead. Using gender-neutral pronouns like “themself” is a great way to ensure inclusivity and avoid any unintended assumptions. It’s important to be mindful of language differences and adapt our communication accordingly, especially in a global context where people come from diverse linguistic backgrounds.


Thank you all for your insights and so useful comments. Really appreciate each one of you for your time and effort to reply to my post.


Why does the FAANG product operate under the presumption of excellence? There are several ways that I can think of that several of their items are kind of dookie. Why does it feel like having experience in a large tech setting is more important than that? It’s just beyond me. Why the constant gloss on FAANG folks when there are good people (and complete turds) in all kinds of industries?


I’ve interviewed a lot of laid off FAANG folks. We’ve passed on a lot of them…

They get paid a lot so they must be good! It surely has nothing to do with connections, school, or other elements of unconscious bias-related privilege!


Here are some of the qualities that make a good PM:

  • reliability, consistency, endurance
  • high say: do ratio, great executor
  • adaptable, resilient
  • bi-directional empathy between team and leadership
  • pragmatist, optimist
  • mentally stabile
  • willingness to take calculated risks
  • data fluency
  • uses ChatGPT effectively
  • willingness and enthusiasm to be social
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You should have some program management skills, which I define as having some knowledge of scheduling and prioritization, in addition to your grasp of the product, product market fit, user needs, etc. Let’s say a paying client or internal stakeholder requests a number of additional features. You must choose which projects to approve or reject and, in the event that you assign a few, say a 3-star priority, which to work on first. It is imperative that if there is a compliance requirement, it be given top attention. ROI is important occasionally, but not always at the price of market share loss. To assist in setting priorities, a wide range of variables and stakeholders should be consulted or given a vote.

These variables and stakeholders can include project managers, product owners, development teams, marketing teams, and even end-users or customers. By involving various perspectives and considering different factors such as strategic alignment, resource availability, and potential impact on customer satisfaction, a more informed decision can be made regarding project approval and prioritization. This collaborative approach ensures that the chosen projects align with the overall goals of the organization while also addressing compliance requirements and balancing ROI with market share considerations.