Chapter 7. A Great Product Manager

The real role of the product manager in the organization is to work with a team to create the right product that balances meeting business needs with solving user problems. To do that, they need to wear lots of different hats. An effective product manager must understand many sides of the company in order to do their job effectively. They need to understand the market and how the business works. They need to truly understand the vision and goal of the company. They also need deep empathy for the users for whom they are building products, to understand their needs.

The title “product manager” is misleading in itself. An effective product manager is not a manager. The position doesn’t come with much direct authority. To be effective team leaders, product managers need to recognize team members’ strengths and to work with them to achieve the common goal. They need to convince their team—and the rest of the company—that what they are working toward is the right thing to be building. These influencing skills are essential.

One of the biggest misconceptions about the role of a product manager is that they own the entire product and therefore can tell everyone what to build. Act this way, and you will only alienate the rest of your team. Product managers really own the “why” of what they are building. They know the goal at hand and understand which direction the team should be building toward, depending on company strategy. They communicate this direction ...

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