This is an article series on moving from individual contributor Product Manager to people manager and Product Leader.

This is something that I’ve personally struggled with, and witnessed brilliant, hardworking, rockstar PMs struggle with. There are some solid articles on this already, as well as great guidance from the recent Cracking the PM Career book. But I still feel like there isn’t enough information out there on how to make this leap. It pains me to watch amazing PMs become jaded or even toxic as they find that they can’t seem to break into the next level.

So I wanted…


Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin

For working professionals who are trying to break into Product Management, I have a piece of advice that I always come back to.

Just do the work.

Easy to say, right? Let me help you understand what that can look like.

Doing Product Work

I have worked with and mentored technical and non-technical professionals interested in becoming Product Managers, many of whom have gone on to become full time PMs. There’s a long list of advice I’ll give, including to do their own homework on how to break in.

But the number one piece of advice I give them is to partner with…


The strength of any organization stems from its people. As a Product Leader, you are responsible for growing and strengthening the product team by hiring talented Product Managers. In this article, I discuss how individual contributors can become effective interviewers and demonstrate leadership skills in improving their hiring process.

This is Part 4 of the “Becoming a Product Leader” series. In this series, I’m tackling different outcomes and traits that individual contributor Product Managers can practice and cultivate to move towards becoming a Product Leader.


Great Product Leaders raise the bar for product management across an organization. They consistently strive to improve how product management is practiced, ensuring better outcomes over time. In this article, I discuss how individual contributor Product Managers can demonstrate leadership by establishing excellence in product management themselves and across their organization.

This is Part 3 of the “Becoming a Product Leader” series. In this series, I am tackling different outcomes and traits that individual contributor Product Managers can practice and cultivate to become a Product Leader.

As an IC PM working to become a Product Leader, you need to convince…


Product Leaders drive impact for the business by taking on complex initiatives and defining strategy across multiple teams. This is Part 2 of the “Becoming a Product Leader” series. In this series, I’m tackling different outcomes and traits that individual contributor Product Managers can practice and cultivate to move towards becoming a Product Leader.


I really like the idea of explicitly mapping out the customer value proposition, and being able to tie that to the customer journey. When working with design and research, often times they're doing a great job of mapping out the customer journey.

Being able to consistently tie it back to customer value and outcomes is a critical part to understand the journey and prioritizing opportunities with that journey to address.


I really like this as an internal stakeholder facing roadmap, rather than a gantt chart or list of features. I'm a big fan of focusing on outcomes over solutions, especially as specific solutions often will be defined closer to the actual start date, rather than 3-6 months out.

That said, how do you think about coordinating dependencies between teams, where the specific feature and timelines are needed?


This is Part 1 of the “Becoming a Product Leader” series. In this series, I’m tackling different outcomes and traits that individual contributor Product Managers can practice and cultivate to become a Product Leader. This article focuses on shifting one’s perspective from a team level Product Manager to an organization wide Product Leader.

The biggest obstacle I faced when trying to move from Product Manager to Product Leader was my own mindset. I had a number of attitudes and beliefs that were counterproductive and held me back:

  • Leadership is responsible for solving organizational problems and strategy. I’ll take on these…

James Wang

Product professional with experience in gaming, consumer software, and B2B SaaS products.

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