Why Product Managers are not Mini CEO’s

Note: I had written this post as a companion to an episode published on Odiocast, which is why this is a small listicle. Unfortunately Odiocast no longer exists.

  • A CEO has responsibilities across various functions. Product managers don’t need to worry about culture, hiring, sales or marketing
  • A PM’s job is not easier than a CEO, it is very different.
  • PMs usually have a defined set of customers or prospects. In the early days, CEOs and the other early employees have to search for product market fit. They have to search for users, hopefully a paying ones. In a lot of way, the product managers job is to increase the radial velocity of the flywheel. The CEO’s job to kick start the flywheel
  • PMs need not be the top user of the product, but they need to understand the inner workings of the product. The CEO, in comparison, is also the Chief Evangelist of the product. She need not know how the internals function, but know how to use the product. This helps in building connections with users
  • CEOs in most cases have some amount of inherent respect, it comes with the job. Some amount via fear too. PM’s have to earn it in most cases
  • Both worry about strategy and vision at different levels. CEO need to worry about mission & vision. A PM usually takes the vision or a subset of it through a roadmap for execution
  • Both need to be quick learners. They need to be People persons, they need to know how to:
    • Manage expectations.
    • Manage internal politics
    • How to motivate people.

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