60: The 12 most important soft skills every product manager needs

60: The 12 most important soft skills every product manager needs

I’m often asked what skills a product manager needs. In my view at least, a good product manager needs both ‘soft’ skills (emotional intelligence) and ‘hard’ skills (product management techniques).

Read on for my list of the 12 most important soft skills a product manager needs.

Empathy – the ability put yourself in the shoes of the user to understand their needs from their perspective

Communication – ability to speak your audience’s ‘language’ and tailor what you say to their needs

Vision – to see what the ultimate product could and should be, and to enthuse others with that vision

Focus – attention to detail

Motivation – to roll up your sleeves and get stuck in; not to wait for people to hand you things on a plate

Patience – when things don’t move as quickly as you need them to; to be able to calm the frustrations of others

Curiosity – there is always something you don’t know; always be learning

Time management – to be effective in your use of time, and make sure you’re working on the most urgent and important thing at any given time

Tenacity – you will make mistakes and suffer setbacks; not giving up in the face of adversity

Perspective – to divide your attention between the big picture and the fine detail, between the here-and-now and the long term

Diplomacy – sometimes you will disagree with people; politeness and diplomacy will mean they keep talking to you afterwards

Team leadership – you cannot do your job without the help and support of many other people, and your job is to get the best from people; and to lead by good example

What do you think of the list? Are there any soft skills you think are missing? Or any you think shouldn’t be there at all?

Sound off in the comments :-)

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The Practitioner's Guide to Product Management book cover

The Practitioner's Guide To Product Management

by Jock Busuttil

“This is a great book for Product Managers or those considering a career in Product Management.”

— Lyndsay Denton

Jock Busuttil is a freelance head of product, product management coach and author. He has spent over two decades working with technology companies to improve their product management practices, from startups to multinationals. In 2012 Jock founded Product People Limited, which provides product management consultancy, coaching and training. Its clients include BBC, University of Cambridge, Ometria, Prolific and the UK’s Ministry of Justice and Government Digital Service (GDS). Jock holds a master’s degree in Classics from the University of Cambridge. He is the author of the popular book The Practitioner’s Guide To Product Management, which was published in January 2015 by Grand Central Publishing in the US and Piatkus in the UK. He writes the blog I Manage Products and weekly product management newsletter PRODUCTHEAD. You can find him on Mastodon, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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