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10 Traits of a Product Manager You Didn’t Think to Look for in 2024

In the tech world of 2024, it’s clear that companies need product leaders who can bring something special to the table. It’s no longer just about the years spent on the job; it’s about finding product managers who blend the best of both worlds – soft skills and technical know-how.

We’ve compiled a list of 10 traits you might not have considered, but these could be exactly what your business needs to stay ahead. Let’s dive in and discover what traits truly makes a product leader stand out.

10 Traits of a Product Leader You Didn’t Think to Look for in 2024


Trait 1: Continuous Learner

Recognizing the dynamic nature of the business landscape, particularly in the technology sector, is crucial. The first trait to look for in a product leader is their ability to be a continuous learner, swiftly adapting to changes in the market, emerging technologies, and shifting with consumer preferences.

Employers, you should prioritize industry engagement and look for product leaders who regularly attend conferences, seminars, and workshops. This commitment to ongoing education not only offers networking opportunities with industry experts but also provides insights into the latest trends and invites active participation in discussions about emerging technologies.

This adaptability is essential for staying ahead of the competition. Look for candidates who demonstrate ongoing professional and personal growth. Analyze the learning and development activities listed on their resumes to gauge their potential for driving progress and maintaining a knowledgeable on your product leadership team.


Trait 2: Collaboration

Gone are the days of siloed product development, where different departments operated independently. Collaboration, more importantly, cross-functional collaboration is a non-negotiable trait for effective product leadership. Hiring managers, you should be prioritizing candidates who excel in not only collaborating with engineering teams but also in fostering partnerships across various functions within your organization.

When product leaders work seamlessly with teams from marketing, sales, design, and other functions, it reduces communication barriers and accelerates the time to market for new products or features. This agility is crucial in today’s competitive landscape where rapid innovation is often a key differentiator. Here at Talentfoot, we’re all about encouraging you to find product leaders who really get sales, marketing, and tech. If your candidates aren’t into teaming up across different areas, we’re here to dig a bit deeper and find those standout individuals.

According to a Harvard Business Review report, organizations that prioritize and invest in cross-functional collaboration experience a significant 15% improvement in overall product development efficiency. We know this, because a collaborative approach brings together diverse perspectives, skills, and expertise from different departments, leading to more innovative solutions and streamlined processes.


Trait 3: Strategic Thinking

Strategic thinking for product managers is paramount, but in 2024, product leaders must augment this with a focus on data-driven decision-making. In a world driven by information and analytics, product leaders who leverage AI and data to make informed strategic decisions hold a distinct advantage. It goes beyond intuition; it’s about decoding success through analytics, understanding customer preferences, and staying attuned to market trends.

A recent survey conducted by McKinsey & Company sheds light on the tangible benefits of having strategic data-driven leaders on your team. Businesses led by such individuals are revealed to be 25% more likely to achieve above-average profitability. This statistic reinforces the notion that data-driven decision-making isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a strategic advantage that directly impacts the bottom line.


Trait 4: Flexibility

Effective flexible project management skills are crucial for the success of product leaders. Your prospecting product managers need to adeptly organize your team’s tasks, use resources wisely, and ensure that the product development process runs smoothly.

Flexibility is no longer just a trendy term; it’s a fundamental requirement for successful product development. Flexibility, as a trait, refers to the ability of product leaders to adapt and adjust to changes, challenges, or new situations. It is a characteristic associated with being open-minded, adaptable, and resilient professionals. When seeking your next product manager, opt for someone who is project management-focused and embraces the power of flexibility. This adjustment enables faster changes, the ability to adjust to evolving requirements, and a responsive approach to dynamic market needs. According to the Project Management Institute, using flexible methodologies results in a 30% increase in project success rates.


Trait 5: Curiosity

Curiosity is an essential trait for product leaders aiming to create better products and enhance user experiences. By fostering a culture of curiosity, product managers can make well-informed decisions regarding product development and user experience design, leveraging it as a strategic advantage. These leaders stay up-to-date by researching trends, asking questions, and gathering feedback from users, enabling them to remain current with industry changes and user preferences. Moreover, a curious product leader can employ creative problem-solving techniques to discover new opportunities or reevaluate existing ones, ultimately leading to more successful product designs.

When selecting candidates, prioritize those who stay informed about industry changes and understand evolving user preferences. This positions your product leaders and organization to remain relevant and competitive in the fast-paced digital landscape.


Trait 6: Empathy

Product leaders possess a keen understanding of user experience (UX), and embracing an empathy-driven design can be a game-changer for employers seeking growth and change. These skills go beyond navigating the complexities of product development; they involve creating designs that users will love and connect with on a personal level. The goal is to ensure that your product stands out and truly resonates with your audience.

Consider this: when hiring a product leader, it’s crucial to look at their empathy in the development process. Whether gathering insights from users or refining features based on real data, an understanding of UX ensures that your product leader not only functions well but also brings genuine value to your users.

However, it’s essential to recognize that true user-centric design goes beyond functionality – it’s about empathy. It involves understanding your users on a deeper, emotional level. Prioritizing empathy-driven design means not just meeting functional needs but establishing an emotional connection with your users. Here’s a noteworthy insight: recent research indicates that 86% of consumers are willing to pay for products and services from businesses that prioritize customer empathy.

So, if you’re seeking a product leader who comprehends the power of empathy in design, you’re not just finding someone to drive product success; you’re finding someone who can make your product resonate with users in ways you may not have imagined.


Trait 7: Inclusive Communicator

Good communication is an essential trait for product leaders. Product managers need to be able to share their ideas in a way that gets your team excited and on board with your company’s goals. If you hire a product leader and they can’t communicate well, it’s hard for them to lead a team successfully…

Tim Bromley, Talentfoot’s Executive Senior Partner, emphasizes the importance of a clear communicator when headhunting a Product Manager. Tim stated, “First and foremost, I look for a clear communicator. Someone who can build rapport with their audience is critical, as it enables communication across various areas of the business, including customers. Setting the strategic direction of a product with a clear vision for all involved is a must-have.”

It’s also important to find product leaders who make sure everyone on the team is heard and included. When different points of view are welcome, the whole team can better understand and add to the product’s direction. This leads to better teamwork and new ideas. Studies show that leaders who are good at including everyone and understanding their team’s feelings can create a workplace where everyone is more involved and eager to share their thoughts.

Teams that communicate this way are not just better thinkers but also make smarter choices, which means they’re more likely to do well and drive growth. If your company values everyone’s input, it is more likely to retain its top talent, highlighting that openness and inclusivity contribute to the team’s success.


Trait 8: Critical Thinking

When you’re hiring a new product leader, seek product leaders who prioritize effective critical thinking and leaders who value time planning. These leaders set clear deadlines to help organize the creation and improvement of your products, keeping an eye on progress to make sure everything gets done without overspending. Remember, critical thinking isn’t just about meeting timelines; it’s about staying prioritized and being able to spot and solve problems before they get out of hand.

As product leaders meet their targets and release products more often and use their critical thinking skills to get better at judging the right speed for developing new features and improvements, leading to higher-quality products. An example of effective time management in product development is employing the 70-20-10 rule, where a product manager might allocate 70% of their time to core tasks, 20% to new initiatives, and 10% to future-oriented, exploratory work. It’s about balancing the commitment to the current core tasks while also investing in new projects and setting aside time for innovative thinking. A product leader who can juggle these aspects is not just keeping up; they’re pushing boundaries and setting new standards.

When looking for a product leader, seek someone who adapts when faced with new challenges swiftly and embraces critical thinking, ensuring your company stays on the path to success in 2024.


Trait 9: Building Strong Relationships

Building and maintaining products is a complex and challenging task that requires strong collaboration with various teams within your organization. When hiring your next product leader, prioritize candidates who excel at cultivating relationships. Look for leaders experienced in collaborating with diverse teams, understanding stakeholder needs, and ensuring product success through effective communication. The best person for the job will reach out and connect with the team in different ways, like having regular meetings or asking for feedback through surveys.

But it’s not just about getting along with the team inside the company. You also want someone who can make good connections outside the company. The right product leader will have a history of working well with business partners, customers, and people who are influential in the industry, building a network that helps the product do better. According to research by McKinsey, making things more personal for customers can make you earn 10 to 15 percent more money. This means that working with others outside your company to make things more customer-friendly can help your business do well.

Hiring a product leader who is good at building relationships is super important for making sure your product and your company grow and succeed.


Trait 10: Awareness

Successful companies need leaders who know how to handle resources effectively…that leads me to ask, have you ever heard of ‘extreme awareness‘ in project management?

This concept revolves around project managers having an immediate understanding of the resources at their disposal. Product leaders, with this level of awareness, can identify potential issues early on and proactively plan for limited resources.

In the context of business scenarios where resources are often constrained, product leaders with extreme awareness excel in strategic planning. Faced with limitations, they navigate challenges adeptly by making informed decisions, prioritizing tasks, and ensuring the team focuses on critical aspects to achieve maximum impact.

Hiring product leaders with this trait of awareness means they can handle challenges, see problems coming, and communicate seamlessly. As the demand for top-notch project management grows, having that extreme awareness is a game-changer for product leaders aiming for excellence.

Product Leaders in 2024

As you navigate the hiring process for a digital product leader in 2024, consider these traits not as isolated skills but as interconnected qualities that define success in the 2024 digital hiring world.

Talentfoot wants to empower your organization with a leader who not only steers your products to success but also positions your business at the forefront of tech innovation. Contact us today for a consultation.