Five Soft Skills Every Product Manager Should Cultivate

Diego Schmunis
5 min readJul 18, 2023

Product management is a nascent profession and still very much in its infancy stage. Yet, for how new it is, it’s evolving very quickly. This is good because it means that the growth potential for those following this career path is enormous.

At the same time, it presents a few challenges. One of them is the lack of standards across industries, and even within companies in the same industry, that employ and deploy people in this type of role . You could have two companies post the exact same Product Management job description, hire the exact same candidate and yet each role could end up being very different from the other one and requiring a completely different set of skills.

As is, the art and science of Product Management requires a broad, and at times deep, set of skills and experiences. But what may make you successful in one role may not contribute to your success in another one.

Although product roles can, and will, vary from one company to the next, I believe that there’s a set of “soft” skills that are highly transferable and applicable to all product positions and are, at the core, the most important and valuable skills for a Product Manager to possess in order to create value and be impactful (If you are a hiring manager, unless your company truly requires some very specific set of hard skills and experience, my recommendation is to hire for these soft skills and provide in-the-job training for the other ones).

The five “soft” skills are:


The best products are not built by a single individual. No matter how much of a visionary, or genius entrepreneur you may be (most likely think that you are), great products are built by great teams. Even in the most solo of all sports (like ultramarathon running or golf) there’s always a team of talented and supporting individuals that contribute their love, sweat and tears to bring about a successful outcome. The best Product Manager know and understand that product building is a hands-on contact team sport, and they know that the best way to building the best products is working with a team that brings a variety of ideas and points of view to the table as not to introduce group bias and that at the end of the day should be the best idea that gets implemented, not the one that the Product Manager thought off. The best and most impactful Product Managers leave their egos at the door and require the same from everyone in their teams.


Customers don’t necessarily want to pay us to build solutions that we like, or we think are best (there’s an old saying that says: “fall in love with the problem, not with the solution”). Customers pay us to solve their problem. Try asking a potential customer to give you money for “your” ideas or solutions and see how quickly they depart with their cash. Now, tell a customer, even better show him or her how your solution directly, simply, effectively and at a bargain of a cost solves his or her problem and probably, if you can find other customers like this one, you’ll struggle to keep up with the orders coming in. Similarly, to the point above about the need to be humble around your team, you also must have a strong sense of empathy for your future users. Truly and deeply care about them and the challenges and struggles that they encounter in their everyday life. Like the best actors becoming their characters to portray them accurately, you must strive to see and feel things from your customers perspective.

Open Minded

One of the most common mistakes that I see Product Manager, and other teams collaborating in the product development, is jumping too quickly and too early into solutioning, coming across a promising idea, and then going full force in defining its requirements and all its details without giving enough time, effort and consideration to other alternatives and their respective tradeoffs. As the saying goes: “there’s more than one way to skin a cat,” but if you already made up your mind, put up the blinds, sort of speak, you’ll miss all the other ways in which you could approach the problem. Also, being open minded is closely related to the first value of humility and realizing that just because you are the Product Manager doesn’t mean that all the ideas (good ones and/or bad ones) must originate from you. Great ideas, like leadership, can come from anywhere and from anyone. Only an open and humble mind can allow for this to happen.

Love for Problems

Say it out loud: I LOVE PROBLEMS, I LOVE PROBLEMS, I LOVE PROBLEMS! Our title may be that of Product Manager but at its core, Product Management is the art and science of problem managing and problem solving. If you don’t care about diving deep into the problems that your customers face, then don’t expect your customers to love (leave alone pay) your products and solutions. The other day, on a Ted talk, I heard the following quote “Magic is just a problem that you cannot solve.” by keynote speaker and magician Vinh Giang and I think it’s totally applicable to Product Management. One of our objectives should be to create magical experiences for the people using our products and solutions and to do that we must start by fully embracing and rejoicing in the problem space.

Ask Great Questions

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” This quote by the famous Stoic philosopher Epictetus points us to the importance of listening to others speak about their problems and struggles so that we can build empathy for them, which will lead us, through our collective team humility, open minded and love for customers’ problems to craft magical solutions. The challenge is that, sometimes, customers don’t exactly know what they need (a key skill for a Product Manager is to be able to discern and separate, sometimes educate, customers’ wants from needs and focus on satisfying the needs first). As Steve Jobs famously said: “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” So, the path that we must take to get to what customers need is through knowing how to ask great questions. What’s a great question? Well, that’s a great question in and of itself. But I’ll say this: in general, a great question is one that, first, is open ended. A question that allows two, or more people, to have an open, honest, and open-minded conversation. Also, it’s a question that for each answer that it provides it prompts 3–5 follow up questions and a few rabid holes to explore. Great questions not only help us better understand our customers’ problems in deep details but are also the seed that starts to generate great understanding which leads to better ideas and solutions.

I believe that these “soft” skills will make just about anyone more successful in any career that they may choose to follow. You could say that these “soft” skills are universal to having long lasting, happy, and successful careers.

Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.





Diego Schmunis

🌟 Observations while on a journey of discovery and self-development through exploring creativity and self-expression. Let's explore together. Join me! 🚀