My folks brought me up to remember my manners. I consider I’ve perhaps taken this a little too far when I find myself apologising to people in London who have just shoulder-barged me into the path of an oncoming bus. But manners are important, especially for a product manager, where your success relies on the help of many others.

Contrary to what you may think, most of product management is actually selling. You are continually selling new product concepts, ideas for improvement as well as pitches for projects. What you may not realise is that what most people think is selling isn’t actually selling.

“Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes. After that who cares?… He’s a mile away and you’ve got his shoes.”
Billy Connolly

Empathy is something every product manager needs to be able to do their job well. Without it, it’s impossible to be sure what matters most to your target market and how valuable a solution to their problems will be.

So much of being a product manager depends on successfully persuading and influencing others. Whether you’re presenting your product strategy, presenting a business case to the Board or talking with your customers, you need to demonstrate a good knowledge of your products and market to ensure that you come over as authoritative and credible.

One of the roles a product manager or product marketing manager plays is to act as a translator between different groups of people. Sometimes this can be in a literal sense, if your responsibilities span different countries, but more generally this means translating between the market, Sales, Marketing and Development as a minimum.

To be a product manager is to be an entrepreneur within your company. You need to take ownership and responsibility for all things to do with your product. Your approach needs to be holistic, evidence-based and diplomatic. You need the ability to jump between the big picture and the day-to-day detail. And you need to know your product, market, company and self to be effective.