Which ones to concentrate and develop? Hard skills or Soft-skills?

How can product managers improve their hard skills since products are primarily composed of intangible soft skills? Being the brains is nice, but as PMs, most of us frequently fall into the trap of not ‘doing’ the work, and as a result, we don’t truly acquire any unique skills.

What would those skills be, then? How are these skills developed? Where can we use them? When is the best time to prioritize those hard skills above soft skills?


Being at ease when under pressure and having quick thinking are not particularly “hard” skills, but they are abilities that you could develop with training and practice. I am frequently called upon to give challenging corporate presentations or to speak with an irate customer. My peers and managers have acknowledged it as a skill throughout my career. And it’s a skill that truly stands out if you work in a sea of technical introverts, making me a valuable asset to any team, regardless of the industry or job function.


@HerbertWarnick, Incredibly appreciable.

Being wise is all about product management, and it plays a crucial role in determining the long-term success and growth of a product. Wise enough to make good decisions that benefit the overall success and growth of a product.


I concur.

I want to master this skill. To do this, I recently joined Toastmasters. Do you have any recommendations for more effective ways to hone this skill? I would suggest seeking out mentors or joining industry-specific professional organizations. These can provide valuable guidance and opportunities for growth. They can also offer networking opportunities and access to resources that can further enhance your skills.


I used to perform on a musical stage, so I’ve long since conquered stage fright. I believe that is quite helpful. However, when I was first starting out in my PM career, I learned the most by seeing senior product managers who were really adept at it. When I am in one of these circumstances, I always make sure that I have a team member present or on the phone who wants to learn this skill. This way, I can observe and learn from their expertise firsthand, which helps me improve my own abilities in that area. In doing so, I can also offer support and guidance to them as they develop their skills in return. In doing so, I can also offer support and guidance to them as they develop their skills in return, fostering a mutually beneficial learning environment.


In terms of PM soft vs. hard talents, I’m not a big supporter. Marty Cagan’s three non-negotiables, which might define the path for PMs to deeply explore abilities (soft or hard), are, in my opinion, a good guiding concept in this situation. The ones who have:

  1. direct contact with clients

  2. access to stakeholders directly

  3. access to data directly

Let’s consider them in context.

You must be familiar with discovery techniques if you have direct access to customers.

  • You will need to develop your reputation and trust with the most crucial people you work with in order to gain direct access to stakeholders. If you don’t know the cost and efficacy factors keeping your vice president of commercials up at night, how are you going to level the dialogue with him or her? Since your leadership is working to maximize COS, you don’t want to appear inept at those meetings or avoid being there the following time. I have witnessed individuals being removed from such rooms in a quiet, deliberate, and respectful manner.

  • Direct access to data means that you will either need to learn how to query data or, more significantly, where to query it, unless you get along really well with someone who can immediately put up your PBI or Tableau dashboards.

  • According to Akash Gupta, the most critical skill for PMs in 2023 and beyond will be commercial literacy, replacing the prior top skill, which was managing product discovery using processes rather than intuition. While it is not discovery, many PMs refer to meeting stakeholders and outlining requirements as such. Similar to this, I observe PMs boasting about their financial and commercial literacy while being aware of some topline commercial indicators. Deepening your knowledge of a topic will set you apart from other project managers. Do not mistake your product management work for product management.


Although I can’t seem to find any publications discussing commercial literacy for product managers, I am undoubtedly interested in learning more about it. In my opinion, what distinguishes PMs from other tech professions is their understanding of how businesses work. We must communicate with everyone and have a basic understanding of everything. This broad knowledge base allows us to effectively coordinate and lead cross-functional teams, ultimately driving successful business outcomes and adapting to changing market conditions. Ultimately, driving successful business outcomes and adapting to changing market conditions are crucial for achieving long-term success and growth.


I believe that learning data analytics and visualization is the most crucial “hard-skill” for a PM to acquire. In addition to improving your own decision-making, learning how to query and examine your product telemetry and create Power BI reports will also enable others on the team to make better use of data.

Even yet, I will concede that hard talents and soft abilities frequently overlap. Therefore, you should be able to learn how to apply them along with your soft skills rather than just learning the hard skills in isolation. For instance, if you use your new analytics skills to uncover a significant insight, you also need to be able to persuade others to act on that insight. Another instance If you produce a Power BI report that isn’t being used, you should learn how to motivate people to include it into their daily operations and how to improve the report’s aesthetics and usability. This can entail putting training programs into place, enhancing the visual appeal, and adding interactive elements.


+1 on this because it will ultimately lead to increased engagement and effectiveness. It will also improve the overall user experience.


The “soft skills” of clear communication, team and stakeholder alignment, problem structuring, prioritization, facilitation, decision-making, and mental model scaling are the toughest for a PM to master.

If you are skilled at this, it distinguishes you from the competition and adds 1000 times more value to a product than understanding how to use recursive SQL or any other “hard skill” you may think of. These skills can be taught and coached. However, the ability to effectively communicate and collaborate with others is a soft skill that is invaluable and difficult to teach. It requires practice and experience to develop, but it is essential for success in any professional setting. It is essential for success in any professional setting because it allows for effective communication and teamwork.


Yes, soft skills comprise 99.99% of the role.

The correct team composition makes hard skills like data extraction, modeling, analysis, testing, and design either optional or a given (understanding how to utilize office tools, whiteboarding tools, issue management systems, etc.). It allows the team to focus more on soft skills and collaboration, which are crucial for the success of the role. This can lead to improved communication and a more efficient workflow. It also promotes better problem-solving and decision-making.


Since I can’t always rely on the data team when I need data ASAP, having some understanding of SQL and analytics has been beneficial to me. Although I haven’t done it yet, I’ve been told to become familiar with the Postman API. Since I started out as a designer, my proficiency in Adobe XD, Illustrator, Photoshop, and Figma is ultimately what set me apart from other applicants for my PM position. I’ve been able to create impressive visual designs and prototypes, effectively communicate my ideas, and collaborate with developers to bring my designs to life. I have a strong understanding of user experience design principles and can effectively analyze user feedback to iterate and improve my designs. Furthermore, I am proficient in various design tools and can adapt quickly to new technologies and platforms. In addition, I have excellent communication and collaboration skills that allow me to effectively work with cross-functional teams.


I could argue for or against communication being a hard skill.

I would argue that taking classes, earning a degree, and developing over time are all comparable to creating code. Every day, alignment, collaboration, and team production are built through written and vocal communication. It’s possibly the most crucial ability a PM possesses and is applied daily. I’d even contend that it’s the most crucial competency across all disciplines in an agile tech business. Without effective communication, a team’s production and collaboration would suffer significantly. Effective communication is essential for fostering innovation and achieving success in any project or organization. It is the key to ensuring that ideas are shared, problems are solved, and goals are met. Without effective communication, projects and organizations may experience misunderstandings, conflicts, and inefficiencies. These issues can hinder progress and ultimately lead to failure. Effective communication is crucial for the success and growth of projects and organizations. It helps to build strong relationships, improve collaboration, and ensure everyone is on the same page.

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It seems like a pretty cool secret weapon to have specific industry domain knowledge from first-hand experience. It can give you a significant advantage over your competitors in terms of understanding the nuances and challenges of the industry. Having this knowledge can help you make more informed decisions and navigate the industry with greater confidence. Ultimately, it can lead to increased success and growth for your business, giving you a competitive edge in the market and positioning you as a leader in your industry.