5 Virtues Product Professionals Should Master to be Successful

5 Virtues Product Professionals Should Master to be Successful

These are 5 virtues product professionals should master to be successful

Virtue #1: Patience

Why do we need it?

As we are dealing with many unknowns, inventing new things, discovering new solutions to old/new problems, we go through an unpaved road. That road will guarantee to throw at us many curves, some potholes, dead ends and even a landslide or two. Without patience we would give up early and get nowhere

A few examples where we need to be patient as Product Managers:

  • Finding product-market fit
  • Getting everyone around us to understand what product management is and how to do it right
  • Finding enough users to talk with and get useful feedback
  • Listen to users go through their journey and their experience POV
  • Experience failures and persevere to find success

Can we develop patience?

I think we can, once we know we lack it:

  • First, be mindful about it – ask others: “am I patient?”
  • Practice starting small. Hold my thoughts and listen. How do I feel while doing it? Can I wait for others to finish talking or do I have an urge to speak without waiting my turn?
  • How do I feel when I fail? Am I discouraged quickly or have a drive to try the next thing?
  • Practice daily with small things, grow a habit, and then continue with bigger things
  • Record every success!

Virtue #2: Empathy

Why do we need it?

Our main job as product managers is to build a valuable product for our users while it works for our company. Without empathy to both – users and stakeholders in our org – we can’t really do our job.

A few examples where we need to be empathetic as Product Managers:

  • Understanding our users’ journey
  • Looking for their problems & JTBD
  • Understanding the impact of the product on our team members that will need to support it
  • Understand how UX and UI impact the users
  • Understand technical challenges our engineers face and what it takes them to build the product

Can we develop empathy?

I think we can, once we know we lack it:

  • Remind myself that others have different POV/job/interests/knowledge
  • Be humble that I don’t know everything
  • Look for opportunities to learn about other people
  • Join support calls to see the pain
  • Use the product to feel the pain
  • Sit by users/stakeholders to see how they work
  • Mentor other PMs to help solve their issues

Virtue #3: Curiosity

Curiosity is the engine that drives scientific research – inquisitive thinkers observe behaviors in complex systems, define hypotheses and drive conclusions from what they find. They see problems and find solutions. In essence, product management is very similar

When are we curios?

  • Finding problems to solve
  • Talking with users to understand their jobs to be done and which problems they have in the current solution
  • Exploring technologies and new ways that can be useful in solving problems
  • Understanding how our company runs and makes money, which regulations/restrictions apply, and how it affects the product we build

Can we develop curiosity?

I think we can, though it is much easier when we are passionate for what we do:

  • Ask “Why?” constantly. The more we ask, the deeper we get
  • Construct gut feelings/assumptions as hypotheses, and develop a process to prove or refute them
  • Define the desired end result and find a way to get there
  • Create opportunities for observations – find where our users are and join them
  • Create mind maps that open opportunities for deeper insights/directions

Virtue #4: Trust

The last virtue I want to add to the previously discussed Patience, Empathy and Curiosity, is Trust.

Where do we need trust?

  • From our c-level/leaders to empower us to build products that provide value to the users while working for the company
  • Our teammates, designers and engineers, to work as a team towards the same goal/outcome, while each do our utmost best to reduce the risks that are in our domain (value, usability, feasibility and viability)
  • Our customers, paying hard earn money to use our products to solve problems they have, and not create new problems
  • Trust the data, not people’s opinions

How do we develop trust?

People say that trust is not given but earned. I would argue that when a person is hired to do a job they are given that trust in good faith. Yes, we need to prove we have it (that’s what 3 months probations are for, no?) but good faith is a two way road, so managers have to provide the trust to allow it to happen. So what can we do?

  • Over communicate all the time, be transparent
  • Don’t be shy of hard discussions
  • Don’t just talk the talk but walk the walk
  • Provide data asap
  • Deliver outcomes

Virtue #5: Respect

Where do we need respect?

  • Respect our customers and users to listen to their problems with *empathy* and really understand what their needs are
  • Respect everyone’s time and commitment, as they *trust* us to deliver them some value, and are *patience* with us to deliver it
  • Respect diversity of voices, expertise and experiences so that we can develop our *curiosity* to learn from each other

Can we develop respect?

Hopefully, all of us already have it as we are growing up from childhood to adulthood, and our parents and teachers show us by example, as well as teach us what respect means. If we still don’t have it, or we are not mindful about it, we could do things to hurt others.

Being mindful about it is the first step to all the virtues I discussed, but respect is the one that probably captures them all. When we practice the other virtues, respect will be developed as a welcomed side effect.