I’ve worked with many Product Managers in my career. Most were average, some were good, few were Rockstars. Here are the 3 qualities that separated a Rockstar Product Manager from the rest:
- Product Vision
- Ability to Execute
Rockstar product managers can spot a product opportunity in a crowded market like a climber can see the peak of the mountain from thousands of miles away.
Not only do they see the peak, they see a path to get there. They know that engineers and designers can’t build everything at once. Rockstar Product Managers know that Rome wasn’t built in a day. They prioritize features carefully.
To prioritize what to build next, they think about:
- where the product is today
- what the company needs right now
- what the company needs in the future
- what the users need right now
- what the user needs in the future
- how much can engineering take on
- how much can design take on
Rockstar Product Managers can balance all the needs above and focus on building the right feature at the right time. They say “no” to the hundreds of other ideas out there.
“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully.” – Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs was a Rockstar Product Manager.
Rockstar Product Managers also don’t just think about building features for one off products. They think about growing self-sustaining product ecosystems. Ecosystems that are resilient to competition.
Ability to Execute
After Rockstars Product Managers form a vision, they sprint through the product roadmap with speed.
They are time management masters and can juggle tasks with grace and efficiency. They’re not afraid of information overload. Instead, they embrace it. Rockstar Product Managers know how to use the right tools at the right time. They maintain velocity while oversee the product development process like a hawk. They watch over the product like it’s their baby and shepherd it along until it has been released into the wild. They actively work with design and engineering. They care about how the product looks and feels as much as how the product works.
Rockstar Product Managers can lead without authority. They can convince people to do what needs to be done and inspire them to have fun doing it. Rockstar Product Managers can sell. They can sell to executives to get resources, they can sell the press to get buzz, they can sell users to get them to try the product, and above all, they can sell the vision to the team so they work tirelessly to build the product.
Rockstars product managers are masters at setting expectations. They recognize that they might have a great team and the product still might fail. Sometimes it’s timing. Sometimes it’s a failed hypothesis. They clearly communicate the risks and unknowns to their stakeholders.
Rockstar Product Managers are authentic. They don’t bullshit. Rockstar product managers recognize that not every product succeeds. They’re honest about how their products are performing. Rockstar product managers don’t make excuses or blame their teams. They know it’s better to fail fast, change direction, or move on than to keep wasting time and resources by going down the wrong path.