Emotional intelligence in product management

Product management is one of the salient functions in many organizations especially in Tech based Organizations. Product managers are responsible for defining a product vision and strategy as well as they lead the cross functional team to achieve the product success.

So, as a product manager you will have to guide and lead the team and definitely you should be able to motivate the team to achieve so. There are different kinds of people in your team. Some of them will be extroverts, some will be introverts, some will be lazy, some will be enthusiastic whereas some need a harder push from you. But as a product manager you need to motivate and guide them all towards a common goal. Also don’t forget your customers 😉

In my product management career I found different types of stakeholders with different types of personalities. To deal with these stakeholders on a daily basis I found it’s really important to use Emotional intelligence in order to not only understand their needs but also to guide them towards a common goal and definitely at the day end satisfy the needs of the customer as well.

“It is with the heart that one sees rightly what is essential is invisible to the eye meaning.”

What is Emotional Intelligence?

As per Wikipedia, Emotional intelligence (EI) is the capability of individuals to recognize their own emotions and those of others, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one’s goal(s).

In an Article in hbr.org Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis published a great piece on what constitutes emotional intelligence. They mentioned EI constitute self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.

  • Self-awareness – our ability to perceive our emotions and understand our tendencies to act in certain ways in given situations
  • Social awareness – our ability to understand the emotions of other people (what others are thinking and feeling)
  • Self-management – our ability to use awareness of our emotions to stay flexible and direct our behavior positively and constructively
  • Relationship management – our ability to use our awareness of our own emotions and those of others to manage interactions successfully.

“No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” Theodore Roosevelt

Role of Emotional Intelligence as Product Manager.

  • Guide your lizard brain

The Lizard brain is a primitive reaction to a situation, such as feeling anger or fear in the moment, which can lead to losing control. Product managers always have to handle different types of situations. The goal is to balance the situation by controlling your own emotions like anger, fear or even when you are upset. So that as a product manager you can take the critical business decisions and can handle a stressed situation properly.

  • Show Empathy towards others

To be a successful product manager one needs to have different skills but I believe one of the major skills is empathy. Empathy is the capacity to recognise and understand the emotions being expressed by others. So as a Product manager you have to build such products which represent the urge and need of a customer. Also product managers should be capable of representing the customer voice within the organization.

Otherway, to build the great product you need a team and to motivate the team the best way is to understand their thoughts and passions, and emotions. All along you need to get closer to them and the only way to do this is understand their emotions.

Here are few tips you might consider:

  • Listen with your heart when others are talking.
  • Show respect to others’ opinions.
  • Don’t interrupt others when they are sharing something with you. Give them proper time to share their feelings.
  • Don’t be judgemental.
  • Recognize others’ efforts.
  • Show personal interest in others.
  • Passion

Passionate towards the product you are building is one of the key factors behind the successful stories. Without passion you may not be able to represent the product to others including sales, marketing, operations, support, UX, and finally the customers.

  • Equalize toxic people

It’s true that sometimes you may not be able to get along with some people. These people will make you crazy with their behavior and irrational attitudes. But as a Product manager your goal is to ensure the best for your products. Best way to handle these types of people is to neutralize the scenarios with facts and figures. So that both parties can find a common ground of understanding and at the day end, product WON!

  • Conflict management

You will face so many conflicting situations towards your journey as a Product manager and conflict is not going away. I believe a Product manager is the one who can manage and de-escalate conflict in terms of best interest of the product or Organizations. Always remember, you as a product manager can exploit conflict and can avoid the conflict based on the situation. But to manage conflict between different stakeholders always try to listen carefully, talk face to face, and try to make the situation win-win for both parties.