As a product manager, you’re never expected to have all the answers. Your most valuable skill as a PM is quite the opposite actually. It sits on your ability to ask the right questions and draw out the insights you need to make informed product decisions.
Some of your potential ideas can come from your support team that works on the frontlines with customers everyday.
If you’re a tough leader, but you’re still doing the following, you’re still on the right track:
- Moving the roadmap forward
Your company should have at the very least, an internal public roadmap. While we know this isn’t a product manager’s only focus, items on the list should be updated and moved around as priorities change and evolve over time. If items aren’t moving, you’re not doing something right.
- Leading your peers
You may not always be most likeable person on the team (your job is to say “no”… a lot!). That’s OK. You do need to publicly acknowledge ideas and encourage active discussions around feature priorities and ideas.
If there’s one thing you should be doing, it’s funneling feedback, comments and observations into your system.
Bonus points if you can bolster company-wide discussions about in which direction your product should be moving. Your teammates should feel like they’re being heard and that their ideas are being taken into consideration - or that channel will dry up pretty fast.
A product manager does get the final word on product decisions, but that also means their team members should feel comfortable enough to approach them with their ideas. Everyone from sales to marketing to support should understand the product’s vision, and still feel like they’re being considered. It takes these interpersonal skills for your PM to successfully lead their product’s development.
- Challenging product requests
You can’t be a pushover. You have every right as a PM to challenge requests and say ‘no’ once – even to the boss! It’s not a good sign if you’re accepting requests without raising an eyebrow first.
At the end of the day, a PM who fires back critical questions is facilitating the kind of valuable discussions that prevent shaky or otherwise questionable ideas from moving forward.
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s true. Have you actually shipped anything at all? If your team continues to be stuck in the same ideation stage without successfully delivering anything, then you might not be communicating or leading effectively.