Success Drivers For Product Managers
“How do I get to manage product managers?” This is the question that I’m most often asked by product professionals who are looking to advance their career. In reality, we should reframe the question to ask, “how do I become a great product leader?” Ultimately, you need to focus on enhancing your abilities before you get caught up in achieving a new title. Simply put, you should “do the verb” and “the noun will follow.”
In my experience, there are three focal points that enable product managers to become successful leaders.
Understand Success Drivers.
Focus On The Right Priorities.
Pick The Right Manager.
Beginning with success drivers, it’s important to understand the pre-requisites that will enable you to advance your career.
- This represents the cumulative results that you’ve produced during your career.
- Present-day summary of your current skills and where you deliver the most value.
- Your capacity for personal/professional growth to develop into a leader.
Focusing on your impact, many product managers struggle with knowing where they fall on the development ladder. In other words, they don’t know where they need to develop in order to be in contention for a leadership role. For example, I like to look at leadership capacity in terms of scope and impact. If your scope and impact are low within your organization, then you need to increase your scope and capacity in order to jump up to the next level in product management.
Another way to look at your development maturity is through the three senses of product management.
- The ability to usually make correct product decisions, even in the presence of major ambiguity.
- Decisions need to be macro-level (will this product work?) and micro-level (what is the right label for this button?).
- Ability to frame the right questions, evaluate multiple facets of a problem, derive solutions and simulate possible outcomes.
- Being good with data is not the only driver for being sound from an analytics perspective – you have to think critically beyond the numbers.
- Ability to align people toward a particular objective and orchestrate complex projects.
- Exercise creativity, empathy, and persuasiveness – in addition to having superb organization abilities.
Over time, product managers must focus on identifying the sense that is most innate to their skill set – and understand how they can improve the other two. For greater context, I like to use the 10/30/50 model to illustrate how to balance your senses. Essentially, you want to operate within the top 10 percent of one sense, top 30 percent in another, and top 50 percent in the remaining sense.
Generally speaking, you should aim to be in the top 10 percent of product sense. Apart from the benefits of being regarded as a product expert, you’ll find that you’ll be at the top of the compensation bracket too!
About the speaker
About the host
Boone Spooner is a customer obsessed Principal Product Manager at Caavo - a device designed to simplify and unify your home entertainment system. Previously he built products at TuneIn where millions of users listened to live music, sports and talk radio shows, podcasts and audiobooks. In another life he worked as a music producer and engineer in San Francisco where he managed the largest recording studio in San Francisco, before building and launching his own. There he worked with Apple, Google, and KFOG and musicians Steve Earle, Alanis Morissette, Death Angel, Third Eye Blind and many others.