Head of the Class

By Pragmatic Institute September 25, 2012

Challenging and negotiating with executives strikes fear into the hearts of product managers and marketers more than any other “soft skill.” 

Nearly 40 percent of respondents identified that as a weakness in our 12th annual survey, which looked at strengths and weaknesses in interpersonal skills for the first time. About 4.5 percent of respondents called such negotiations their “greatest weakness.”

“Executives are oftentimes very focused on hitting the date or making the trade show or meeting the criteria of a certain large deal,” Paul Young, instructor at Pragmatic Institute, explains. 

“When push comes to shove, it's tough for many product managers to sit down and have that difficult discussion with an executive if a date isn’t going to be met or about the tradeoffs that have to happen.”

He adds, “And product managers oftentimes have the challenge of negotiating with executives to say: ‘We understand that you want to go in this direction, but the market is asking us to go in a different direction and here's why.’”

Other areas that many identified as weaknesses included building consensus (19.3 percent) and pitching ideas to critical audiences (17.7 percent).

For strengths, 86.3 percent of respondents identified motivating others to action and 83.8 percent identified synthesizing data into actionable information.

Interesting, although not surprising to Young, was how much product managers and marketers empathize with other parts of the organization, with 87 percent identifying it as a strength. “Nobody grows up from kindergarten saying, ‘I want to be a product manager,’” he says.

“Almost every product manager comes from some other part of the organization, so it makes sense that they would remember those experiences when they go into their new roles.”

What soft skills do you think make a strong product manager or marketer?

Categories: Go-to-Market
Pragmatic Institute

Pragmatic Institute

Pragmatic Institute (formerly Pragmatic Marketing) has continuously delivered thought leadership in technology product management and marketing since it was founded in 1993. Today, we provide training and present at industry events around the world, conduct the industry’s largest annual survey and produce respected publications that are read by more than 100,000 product management and marketing professionals. Our thought-leadership portfolio includes the Pragmatic  Framework, eBooks, blogs, webinars, podcasts, newsletters, The Pragmatic magazine and the bestseller “Tuned In.”


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